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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Victorian council urges residents to separate glass

Macedon Ranges council in central Victoria is urging residents to separate glass from other recyclable material at kerbside.

In a media statement, council said it was working with its waste contractor, Four Seasons Waste, to find alternative processing options following the closure of SKM Recycling.

“An alternative processor has been identified, but this processor will only accept recycling loads which do not contain glass,” the statement reads.

“Council is asking residents to not place glass in recycling bins, effective immediately, so it can explore this option further.”

Acting Assets and Operations Director Anne-Louise Lindner said residents needed to work with council to find alternatives to landfill.

“We really hope the community will come on board and help us to remove glass from recycling bins,” Ms Lindner said.

“Shards and small pieces of glass can become embedded in paper and cardboard in recycling bins, and contaminate the other recyclables.”

The Victorian Government recently announced that councils affected by SKM’s closure would receive a rebate to cover additional costs incurred to deal with recyclable waste.

“This new funding has a particular focus on finding innovative solutions to the problem, and by trying to remove glass from our recycling, we’re already making progress in this area,” Ms Lindner said.

Ms Lindner said council would conduct bin audits in the coming weeks to monitor the level of glass in kerbside recycling bins.

“If we can see glass has been removed from bins, we may be able to divert recycling from landfill and send the glass-free recycling to this new processor,” Ms Linder said.

“Council has long been advocating for a solution to the recycling issue, which involves all levels of government working together.”

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