What can businesses learn from Recycling Victoria?

With landfill down by 80 per cent – what can businesses learn from the Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria Strategy? Melanie Barstow of Source Separation Systems explains. 

The Victorian Government has introduced a new waste and recycling program, aiming to reduce their waste to landfill by 80 per cent over ten years. It’s an ambitious goal compared to those being set by many commercial organisations, so what can we in business learn, and potentially leverage, from their strategy?

There are two key initiatives which underpin Victoria’s new recycling program. Firstly, the introduction of a new purple glass jars and bottles kerbside bin for residents, which will see household waste source separated into four streams: organics (for composting), plastic/metal/paper and glass (both for recycling) and landfill. The second initiative is the future introduction of a container deposit scheme, which at its core, further source separates waste into cleaner streams, albeit with an incentive.

Source separation into single uncontaminated streams is the key to reducing landfill. It transforms mixed ‘waste’ into a single resource, which can be more cost effectively processed, enabling the commercial scale recycling we are striving for. The new purple bin introduced in Victoria ensures that glass bottles and jars can be accepted as a cleaner single stream resource and so more cost effectively recycled into products such as road base.

The key to achieving best practice resource recovery for business often lies in the landfill bin! Waste is obviously site specific, so the content of landfill bins, once key waste streams are removed, provides further opportunities for recovery.

For many organisations looking to move forward from a traditional two stream program, an organics stream will have the greatest impact. The good news is that such organics can be easily ‘recycled’ through composting, just as nature intended.

For organisations with more advanced source separation already in place, single streams such as coffee cups are becoming more prevalent. These single stream units ensure not only can the wax coated cups be recycled through specific technology, but equally importantly, reduce contamination in the recycling stream, which can see entire recycling bins end up in landfill.

Towards the end of the source separation journey, as effective resource recovery increases and landfill volumes drop, often what remains is dry waste with high calorific properties. Innovative organisations, and indeed even full precincts such as Barangaroo, are introducing ‘dry waste’ streams, which coupled with their single recovery streams, actually eliminate landfill. Such dry waste is processed into briquettes, which are then used in power stations as an alternative to fossil fuels.

As new streams are introduced, consistent with all change programs, effective communication is key. Best practice recycling streams, with Australian standard colours, differentiated apertures, text and graphic labels can play a key role in communication.

The future of resource recovery in Australia, leveraging these single source streams, is looking increasingly positive. We at Source Separation Systems look forward to continuing to partner with more businesses to eliminate landfill, with rainbows of resource recovery solutions customised to each location.

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Sustainability Vic seeks Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund EOIs

Sustainability Victoria is seeking expressions of interest for the state government’s new Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund.

The fund is designed to ramp up recycling infrastructure, improve the recovery of valuable recycled materials and divert waste from landfill. It will initially focus on stimulating investment in infrastructure that can sort and process organic, plastic, paper, cardboard, glass, textile, and tyre waste into high-value material streams.

According to a Sustainability Victoria statement, expressions of interest are now being accepted for two grant streams: Materials (paper, cardboard, plastic and glass) and Hazardous Waste (solvents).

The Materials stream includes $28 million to target infrastructure projects that will reprocess, remanufacture and build end-market capacity for priority recovered materials. While the Hazardous Waste stream includes $11.5 million to target infrastructure projects that can improve the recycling of solvents from liquid hazardous waste.

“This immediate investment will provide support for the government’s transformation of the state’s waste and recycling system, complementing the introduction of a new four-bin system across households and a state-wide container deposit scheme,” the statement reads.

“The Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund will drive innovation and improve the capability of Victoria’s recycling sector. This builds on the $28 million already committed in the 2019–20 budget delivering a record investment in Victoria’s recycling infrastructure as the state embraces a circular economy and a sustainable future.”

Expression of interest will close 3pm May 8.

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Industry set to see immediate Recycling Victoria impact

Victoria’s landfill levy increase is set to have an immediate impact on recovery rates, according to Bingo Industries Managing Director Daniel Tartak.

The increase – $65.90 to 125.90 over three years – is one of many changes outlined in Victoria’s new circular economy policy Recycling Victoria, released earlier this week. Additional changes include the introduction of a container deposit scheme and a $100 million infrastructure investment.

Mr Tartak welcomed the levy increase, applauding the state government’s bold efforts to develop Victoria’s recycling economy.

“It will further encourage recycling, optimise the diversion of waste from landfill and promote the development of a truly circular economy; promote investment in recycling technology, and move Victoria towards international best practice diversion rates,” Mr Tartak said.

“The staged increase in the levy also works well for our customers, who can now plan ahead for this and other structural changes, such as the new EPA Act and increased safety and compliance regulations which will also impact the sector.”

According to Mr Tartak, the polices, commitments and actions outlined in the plan align with BINGO’s Victorian strategy.

“We’ve invested more than $100 million over the past three years in the acquisition and development of recycling assets in anticipation of many of the initiatives outlined in this plan,” he said.

“We recently received approval to operate our advanced recycling facility in West Melbourne for 24 hours per day, seven day per week, so we’ll be ready to accommodate the increased volumes we expect to receive from 1 July onwards. ”

Mr Tartak also highlighted the plan’s support for the development of waste-to-energy facilities, increased resources to monitor illegal behaviour and commitment to increasing the use of recycled materials in construction projects as positive.

According to Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy, Recycling Victoria’s long term measures will help Victorian recover from the recycling crisis and take a leadership position, including in the use of recycled content in infrastructure.

“We’re pleased to see that the Victorian Government has released its new circular economy strategy – Recycling Victoria – overhauling the state’s recycling sector and further reducing waste going to landfill,” Mr Murphy said.

“The industry requires long term decisions, and the 10-year plan features reforms to accelerate Victoria’s shift to a circular economy, including supporting businesses and communities, creating local jobs, and leading the way in the use of recycled materials.”

In reference to Recycling Victoria’s container deposit scheme announcement, Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said the move was a step in the right direction towards achieving a circular economy.

“At Cleanaway we have seen firsthand the environmental, economic and social benefits of a container return scheme,” he said.

“A system that encourages consumers to separate recycling at the point of disposal improves the quality of the recyclable material, which makes it an even more valuable commodity for reuse.”

Mr Bansal also applauded the Victorian Government’s efforts to improve the quality of recyclable material across the state.

“The introduction of a fourth recycling bin for glass is expected to reduce contamination and create a cleaner commodity stream,” Mr Bansal said.

“This, in turn, means more materials will be recycled and opens up opportunities for a circular economy for glass.”

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Landfill levy set to double under Recycling Victoria strategy

Victoria’s landfill levy is set to almost double, with the release of the state’s long-awaited circular economy policy Recycling Victoria. 

According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the increase – $65.90 to $125.90 over three years – will help support recycling reforms and provide a stronger incentive to invest in new waste technologies.

“Victoria’s landfill levy is significantly lower than our neighbouring states, meaning Victoria is too often used as a dumping ground for waste coming from New South Wales and South Australia,” she said.

“The change reflects an agreement reached by state and territory treasurers to work towards the harmonisation of landfill levies, and will provide a strong incentive to reduce and recycle waste.”

The 10-year plan, Recycling Victoria, outlines a more than $300 million package of reforms, including a statewide four-bin kerbside system, container deposit scheme, nearly $100 million to support resource recovery infrastructure and recognising waste as an essential service.

“This is the largest package of recycling reforms and investment in Victoria’s history. It will revolutionise household recycling, drive business innovation and create jobs of the future. Most importantly, it will give Victorians a truly circular economy and recycling system they can rely on,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Furthermore, Recycling Victoria allocates $71.4 million to tackle waste crime, with more resources to stop illegal dumping and stockpiling and deal with high-risk sites and substances.

Ms D’Ambrosio said a dedicated Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will be established within the EPA, which will work closely with WorkSafe Victoria, emergency service agencies, councils and other regulators to improve information sharing and coordination.

“For too long, waste crime has undermined Victoria’s recycling sector with dangerous and illegal stockpiling. Our investment will help to clean up the industry and make it fairer for businesses that do the right thing,” she said.

Recycling Victoria also sets new goals for improved resource recovery including a landfill diversion target of 80 per cent. Additional targets include cutting total waste generation by 15 per cent per capita by 2030 and ensuring every Victorian household has access to FOGO services or local composing by 2025.

“These targets will create investment certainty for businesses, while promoting jobs and growth in the industry,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The government will also provide $14.6 million to support local projects that boost recycling, reduce littering and take advantage of economic opportunities to reduce waste, particularly in regional communities.”

Sustainability Victoria welcomed the release in a media statement, calling Recycling Victoria a bold and transformative 10-year plan to shift the state to a circular economy that wastes less and recycles more.

“We are proud to have played a significant role in developing the policy and our work to transform the recycling sector is already underway, with the launch of $39.5 million in grants from the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund to boost recycling capacity in Victoria,” the statement reads.

“Reducing waste and creating a strong recycling system is a shared responsibility. We look forward to partnering with businesses, governments and individuals to move the state towards a circular economy that is built on innovation.”

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