Circular Economy Research and Development Fund: Organics – Guidelines

Last updated: 12 September 2022
Prior to 1 July 2022, this fund was named the Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund: Organics.

1. About the funding

Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund – Organics supports businesses and research organisations to research and develop innovative ways to improve processes, performance or systems of existing recycled organics products.

This fund aims to enhance the market for recycled organics.

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm, 16 July 2021. Late applications will not be accepted except under exceptional circumstances.

This grant is part of the Recycling Victoria policy funding.

1.1 Fund objectives

The fund objective is to enhance the market for existing recycled organic products.

Projects must meet one or more of the following objectives:

  • Improve recycled organics process – Develop superior or bespoke methods for producing products (e.g. improve process efficiency, match recycled organic product to soil and plant needs, or develop cheaper on-site solutions)
  • Improve recycled organics performance – Create distinguishing features or improved functionality (e.g. value add recycled organics products, develop fit for purpose blends, or identify optimal timing of recycled organics application to soil)
  • Improve recycled organics product systems – Complementary products or services. (e.g. develop decision support tools, monetise the natural capital improvement resulting from recycled organics use, or develop specialised prototype farm machinery for applying compost).

Projects must be for innovations that are both commercially feasible in the current market and close to commercialisation. Projects must have the potential to be commercialised between 2023 to 2024. Applicants will be asked to summarise the pathway to commercialisation for their project.

1.2 Funding

Grants of up to $300,000 are available.

1.3 Co-contribution

Applicants must co-contribute at least $1 for every $1 funded.

Co-contributions can be either financial (cash) or in-kind. Up to 100% of the co-contribution can be in-kind.

Project partners must contribute at least 20% to the co-contribution.

2. Eligibility

2.1 Who can apply

To be eligible, you must be a collaborative partnership of a research organisation and an organisation that produces or uses recycled organics commercially.

One of the project partners must be the Lead Applicant, who applies and is responsible for managing the project. The Lead Applicant must be located in Victoria.

Examples of research organisations:

  • Research and Development Corporations (RDCs)
  • Universities
  • Catchment Management Authorities
  • Farmer owned research and development organisations

Examples of eligible non-research organisations:

  • Composting businesses
  • Councils
  • Agricultural enterprises
  • Civil construction businesses
  • Industry groups and associations

The Lead Applicants must:

We encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

Sustainability Victoria manages several grants. Although you can apply for more than one grant for a project, you can only receive one grant. If you’ve already applied for a Sustainability Victoria grant and now find this grant is more relevant or suitable, you can withdraw your application by emailing us.

2.2 Who cannot apply

  • Organisations that are not research organisations
  • Organisations not currently involved in the recycled organics industry

2.3 What will be funded

Projects must:

  • be located or service Victoria
  • have the potential to increase market demand
  • improve existing recycled organics products
  • meet regulatory or planning requirements
  • be complete 2 years from commencement date.

Projects must improve process, performance or systems for existing recycled organics products.

You can submit multiple applications. Each application must be for a different project. An application must not be for multiple projects.

2.4 What will not be funded

Projects that will not be funded:

  • research and development related to the development of new recycled organic products
  • research and development that aims to produce outcomes that would not be permissible under subordinate legislation of the new Victorian Environmental Protection Act 2018
  • research that does not benefit the Victorian economy
  • research that is not primarily based in Victoria
  • projects that are being undertaken in order to comply with regulation or a regulatory notice or order
  • projects that have received funding or support for the same activities from other sources
  • projects that do not clearly demonstrate a need for government support
  • projects that do not demonstrate good value for money
  • projects that are completed or have commenced prior to signing a funding agreement.

The following is ineligible for funding:

  • lease or purchase of land
  • permit, licensing, approval costs
  • routine or cyclical maintenance works
  • repair of facilities damaged by vandalism, fire or other natural disasters where damage should be covered by insurance
  • operating costs (e.g. salaries, electricity, water and other utilities)
  • marketing, advertising, promotional costs
  • purchase of vehicles (e.g. front end loaders, forklifts)
  • business case development, feasibility studies, consultancy or contract work
  • pre-construction (site preparation) such as site clearing, earthworks or site accessibility works
  • travel, conferences and other educational activities.

3. Assessment process

3.1 Assessment criteria

The assessment panel will assess the application according to this criteria. Weightings are a guide.


Weighting: 40%

Describe the problem your research proposes to resolve.

Demonstrate your project will:

  • enhance markets for recycled organics
  • support the quality, reputation and demand for recycled organics
  • contribute to increase waste recovery to 80% by 2030.


Weighting: 20%

Describe who will deliver the project.

Demonstrate the abilities the Lead Applicant and project partners have to deliver the project including capability (skills) and capacity (resources).


Weighting: 20%

Describe why the project is needed and how it will improve markets for recycled organics.

Demonstrate how your research will contribute to improving existing recycled organics processes, performance or systems.


Weighting: 20%

Describe how the project will be delivered.

Demonstrate how the project is commercially feasible, scalable and capable of being delivered.

Additional criteria

Value for money

Weighting: Non-weighted

How much funding are you seeking?

Describe how the funding will provide value for money for Victorians.

Outline how much your in-kind and/or cash contribution will be.

Risk management

Weighting: Non-weighted

Describe what risk management strategies and practices are in place and provision for risk management plan.

3.2 Assessment process

As part of the online application, you will self-assess your eligibility and project readiness. If the assessment finds you or your project ineligible, you will not be able to proceed with your application.

The grant program involves a competitive, merit-based application process.

Your application will be assessed by a panel with relevant technical and commercial expertise.

The application form covers what detailed information Sustainability Victoria requires to assess your application. If clarification is required, you need to respond in a timely manner.

Diversity consideration

Sustainability Victoria may overlay rankings to achieve an overall mix of projects that represent:

  • a geographical spread across Victorian regions
  • spread across industries and types of applicants
  • a mix of project types (e.g. projects targeting different organic products).

3.3 Due diligence checks

A risk-based approach will be used to assess the Applicant’s social, economic and environmental risks in relation to the project. This assessment will include the Applicant’s Related Entities and may include Project Partners and/or Project Participants (see Section 9: Program definitions).

Applicants (and their Related Entities and, if applicable, their Project Partners and/or Project Participants) must:

  • have had no Environmental, Safety or Workplace Breaches in the last five years or, if there was a breach, SV may assess that the Applicant’s breach poses a satisfactory level of risk;
  • have not been the subject of an enforceable undertaking or successful litigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman for a breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 or a fair work instrument within the last five years;
  • demonstrate financial capability to undertake the project;
  • have adequate insurance as outlined in the funding agreement and below:
    • Public liability $20M minimum
    • Professional indemnity $5M minimum
    • WorkCover
  • have not failed to satisfactorily progress or complete previous projects funded by SV within funding program timelines and without sufficient reason; and
  • manage any conflicts of interest adequately.

Assessment of satisfactory level of risk will include but not be limited to SV’s consideration of:

  • the seriousness of any finding/s;
  • whether the finding/s has been resolved to the satisfaction of the relevant enforcement agency, or the Applicant can demonstrate it is working effectively to resolve the finding;
  • the efforts made by the Applicant including implementation of management systems, to ensure no further finding/s occur; and
  • whether, since the finding, the Applicant has had a satisfactory level of compliance with relevant Environmental and Safety Laws and Workplace Laws.

SV may conduct due diligence checks on the Project Partners and/or Project Participants involved in the delivery of the project. The Applicant must ensure that any Project Partners and/or Project Participant(s) agree to cooperate with this requirement and will provide information at SV’s request.

SV reserves the right not to award funding to Applicants where the due diligence risk (including that of Project Participants and Project Partners) is unsatisfactory or not able to be managed.

4. Funding conditions

Successful applicants approved for funding must do the following.

Before starting the project

  • Participate in an inception meeting to discuss project and funding agreement.
  • Agree to realistic evidence-based and performance-based milestone payments.
  • Provide Sustainability Victoria with insurance certificates of currency.
  • Sign Sustainability Victoria’s Funding agreement within 30 days of approval.
  • Provide a project plan.

During and after the project

  • Deliver the project as outlined in the application and comply with the funding agreement.
  • Contribute to regular project updates or meetings.
  • Notify Sustainability Victoria immediately about any delay or change to the project.
  • Provide update reports to Sustainability Victoria at agreed milestones with evidence of expenditure, progress and performance
  • Provide adequate monitoring and evaluation of the project according to the funding agreement.
  • Collect and release data to Sustainability Victoria. Sustainability Victoria may share or report on the data.
  • Contribute to the project’s promotional activities (for example, provide Sustainability Victoria with support by reviewing and approving written stories or videos).
  • Participate in and contribute to Sustainability Victoria activities to distribute the findings to broader stakeholders (for example, government and industry).
  • Acknowledge that Sustainability Victoria has contributed funding in all communications related to the project.

5. Timeline

Dates may change.

Update: We've received more applications than expected. Due to the overwhelming response, the date for notification of outcome has changed from 1 October to mid-November 2021. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Applications open: 1 June 2021

Applications close: 11:59 pm, 16 July 2021

Information session: 10 am, 10 June 2021

Notification of outcome: mid-November 2021

Funding agreements established: 8 January 2022

Projects commenced by: 31 January 2022

Project completed: 2 years from commencement date

6. How to apply

Before applying, we recommend you attend an information session.

The grant program involves a competitive, merit-based application process.

  1. Ensure that your organisation is eligible to apply.
  2. Ensure that your project is qualified.
  3. Read Sustainability Victoria’s funding agreement. Ensure that you can meet the terms and conditions.
    1. For grants $50,000 or less read the Short-form grant funding agreement.
    2. For grants more than $50,000 read the General grant funding agreement.
  4. Read Sustainability Victoria’s Terms of participation in grant programs.
  5. Create an account and start your application on the SmartyGrants website.
  6. Submit your application by 11:59 pm, 16 July 2021. Late applications will not be accepted.

Your application

  • Allow adequate time to plan, research, gather supporting documentation and draft your application.
  • As this is a competitive grant, we cannot review drafts or feedback.
  • You must use SmartyGrants, unless you have written permission from Sustainability Victoria.

Tips for using SmartyGrants

  • Click ‘Save progress’ every 10 to 15 minutes. This prevents your data from being lost if something happens when you’re filling in the form. You will be automatically logged out of the system after 60 minutes of inactivity (where you did not click ‘Save progress’ or navigate between pages). Once logged out, you will close any changes that were not saved.
  • Wait for your file to be uploaded. Wait for your document to be successfully attached before going to another page. If not, the file upload will be cancelled. The maximum size per file is 25MB.
  • Once you’ve submitted your application, you cannot make any changes. Check your application carefully.
  • You will receive a confirmation email. When your application has been submitted successfully, you will get an automatic receipt from SmartyGrants.
  • For any technical issues, please contact SmartyGrants on (03) 9320 6888.

7. Assistance available

7.1 Information sessions

There will be 1 information session.

The information session will outline the:

  • intent of the fund
  • types of applications we are seeking
  • application process.

We will also discuss successfully commercialising a research project.

Participants attending the information session will have an opportunity to ask questions about the fund and the application process.

Sessions are online. A recording will be available after the session.

Date: Thursday, 10 June 2021

Time: 10 am

Register now

Read the information bulletin

Answers to questions we receive at our information sessions and via phone and email are published on our Information bulletin.

We only publish answers to questions that are not already covered in these grant guidelines.

7.2 Contact us

We cannot review drafts or feedback.


In the subject line, use the grant name 'Recycling Victoria Research and Development – Organics'.

8. Why the Victorian Government is providing this funding

This fund is released as part of the Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria policy.

The policy will fundamentally boost jobs and establish a recycling system Victorians can rely on.

Key Commitment 8 of the policy is to increase the use of recycled materials. Under this commitment, the Recycling Markets Acceleration package is being delivered. This fund is a component of this package.

The policy has a target to halve the volume of organic materials going to landfill between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2025. As Victoria works toward this target, there will be a corresponding increase in the volume of recycled organics supplied to the market. To reduce the risk of market failure from over supply, we must increase the demand for recycled organics.

We must research and develop ways to enhance the value of existing recycled organic products to grow the demand.

9. Fund definitions


The applicant who applies for the funding and is responsible for all details in the submission of an application and the contractual obligations under the funding agreement with Sustainability Victoria if successful for grant funding.


The Applicant’s required cash or In-kind Contribution to the total project income.

Collaborative Partnership

A relationship established between a Lead Applicant and Project Partner/s for the purposes of meeting common project objectives and outcomes. Collaborative Partnerships need to be demonstrated by a formal agreement between the partners that outlines the governance, financial and intellectual property arrangements and roles and responsibilities of each party. A formal agreement must either be in place or be finalised before commencement of the project.

Direct Jobs

Actual new full-time positions created by your business. This can include training or upskilling of employees who would otherwise be made redundant through the implementation of your project.

Environmental, Safety or Workplace Breach

An environmental or safety breach is any past or current prosecution, reportable incident, investigation, notice, penalty, warning, regulatory intervention or enforcement action from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Victorian WorkCover Authority (WorkSafe) or Fair Work or failure to comply with any environmental, safety and workplace laws.

Environmental and Safety Laws

Environmental and safety laws are the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, Environment Protection Act 1970 or any other legislation, regulation, order, statute, by-law, ordinance or any other legislative or regulatory measure, code, standard or requirement relating to the protection and safety of persons or property or which regulate the environment including laws relating to land use planning, pollution of air or water, soil or groundwater contamination, chemicals, waste, the use, handling, storage or transport of dangerous goods or substances, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, or any other aspect of protection of the environment.

Full-Time Equivalent Employees (FTE)

The hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis.

Calculating FTE

The calculation is used to convert the hours worked by several part-time employees into the hours worked by full-time employees. For example, you have three employees working the following - 40, 40 and 20 hours per week, giving you 100 hours per week in total.

Assuming full-time hours are 40 hours per week, your full-time equivalent calculation is 100 hours divided by 40 hours which equals 2.5 FTE.

Indirect Jobs

Jobs created by other businesses that come into existence due to the economic growth of your business.

In-kind Contribution

An in-kind contribution is a contribution of a good or a service other than money.

In-kind contributions may include, but is not limited to:

  • staff time to manage project implementation (project management and installation costs that utilise existing internal resources);
  • time spent on project activities by volunteers; and
  • donated goods or services related to the project.

The following activities cannot be considered in-kind contributions:

  • operating expenses that are not directly associated with delivering the project; and
  • opportunity costs such as staff ‘downtime’ during the installation of equipment or implementation of activities.

Lead Applicant

The listed applicant for the purposes of a Collaborative Partnership. The Lead Applicant will be responsible for all details in the submission of an application and the contractual obligations under the funding agreement with Sustainability Victoria if successful for grant funding.

The Lead Applicant is also responsible for managing the project outcomes and deliverables of the Collaborative Partnership.

Project Participant/s

An organisation engaged by the Applicant to assist in the delivery of the Applicant’s project, including but not limited to major subcontractors, contractors, product suppliers and consultants.

Project Partner/s

An organisation/s in a Collaborative Partnership with a Lead Applicant that have a critical role in the project and a formal commitment to delivering the support required to ensure the project’s success.

Related Entities

Entities which are related to the Applicant and includes:

  • Holding companies of the Applicant
  • Subsidiaries of the Applicant
  • Subsidiaries of holding companies of the Applicant
  • Companies with common directors or shareholders as the Applicant
  • Companies that are a beneficiary under a trust of which the Applicant is a trustee
  • Trustees of a trust under which the Applicant is a beneficiary
  • Companies that conduct business at the same address as the Applicant, or the same address as the location of the activity for which the funding is sought

Related Person/s

Related Person means a director, officer, employee, agent, board member or contractor of the Applicant or a Related Entity.

Workplace Laws

Workplace laws are the Fair Work Act 2009, or any other legislation, regulation order, statute, by-law, ordinance or any other legislative or regulatory measure, code, standard or requirement relating to the provision of fair, relevant and enforceable minimum terms and conditions for all persons and to prevent discrimination against employees.

Contact us

We cannot review drafts or feedback.


In the subject line, use the grant name 'Recycling Victoria Research and Development – Organics'.