Data paving the way for a stronger recycling system

Published: 19 November 2020

Each year Sustainability Victoria captures household kerbside and industry waste data. This helps us understand the performance of our recycling system as well as industry and household trends and opportunities. We use this information to improve our processes and infrastructure to transform our recycling sector into one we can rely on.

The breadth and quality of our data and our capacity to predict and monitor Victoria’s waste is improving. Through Recycling Victoria, the Victorian Government is investing $7 million to modernise our waste data over the next four years.

Obtaining high quality data is an important piece of our transition to a circular, climate resilient economy.

With transparent and holistic data, the Victorian Government will have more opportunities to monitor progress and use insights to inform impactful decision-making in:

  • product and process design
  • material use
  • reuse and recycling
  • safe and effective waste disposal.

We have just released two annual reports with key insights into how waste was managed in Victoria in the 2018–19 financial year.

We acknowledge the contributions of councils and the recycling sector to these: thank you for your input.

Local government waste services (2018–19)

The recycling process begins at home – when you place items in the correct recycling bins. Data from all 79 municipalities in Victoria shows there have been significant environmental benefits from sorting correctly at home:

  • 443,000 tonnes of green waste were processed: eliminating up to 102,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases (the equivalent of 27,000 cars off our roads) by diverting this waste from landfill
  • Over the last 18 years, Victorian households are sending less waste to landfill. Annual waste to landfill per person has dropped by 51kg since baseline data was released in 2001–02. In the last five years, waste to landfill has dropped by 13kg per person.
  • Since our baseline data, more organic material and recyclables are also being collected through kerbside services. Material collected for recycling has increased by 11kg per person.

More insights and the full local government report are available online.

Recycling correctly at home makes a difference

There’s still more work to be done to improve recycling outcomes. Our data shows the opportunities we have and the impact we can make when we rethink our way of doing things – what we choose to make, buy, use and recycle.

What you do at home makes a difference, so get to know what you can and can’t put into your recycling bin. Our online tool will tell you if an item can go in your recycling bin – or if it needs special attention.

By reducing waste to landfill, we also reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to Victoria’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Recycling industry report (2018–19)

This report captures how all of Victoria’s waste – from construction and demolition activity, commercial and industrial businesses and household collections – is managed, recovered for reprocessing, exported for reprocessing or disposed to landfill. We know:

  • 15.3 million tonnes of waste were generated across Victoria
  • almost 10.8 million tonnes of material were recovered for reprocessing (70% of our waste), an 8% increase from the previous year (2017–18)
  • in the last two years the amount of material recovered for reprocessing has increased by 25%, driven by major infrastructure projects in the construction and demolition sector
  • landfill diversion rates for metals (91%), aggregates, masonry and soils (85%) are relatively high
  • plastics have among the lowest diversion rates of the materials we analysed, with 24% diverted from landfill.

To meet this challenge, we are prioritising plastics along with paper and cardboard, glass and rubber in several upcoming grants and programs for government and industry aimed at:

  • building strong markets for recycled materials
  • supporting investment in resource recovery facilities and services to increase diversion.

More insights and the full industry report are available online.

Making impactful change from data insights

Recycling Victoria’s expansion of Victoria’s waste data systems will include:

  • a framework for monitoring Victoria’s progress towards a circular economy
  • a new waste and recycling data system
  • continued and expanded waste and recycling market intelligence reporting – see our Market Bulletin for current intelligence insights.

Recycling Victoria is a 10-year plan that will improve material recycling, cut pollution and boost economic growth and jobs. Read more about the policy.