Where does your recycling go in Yarra?

Tuesday 08 August 2017

Person putting a plastic bottle in a recycling bin
Following the ABC Four Corners documentary, we have put together this information on where your recycling goes in Yarra.

Which company manages recycling in Yarra?

We have an existing contract with Visy Recycling for the kerbside collection and processing of recyclable material. We receive a rebate from Visy for the recyclable material which is sorted into material components for recycling into new products.

Can you tell me more about Visy Recycling?

Visy Industries is a huge manufacturer of cardboard products, paper products, plastic containers, drink containers, aluminium containers and steel cans so they are the major primary user of the recovered recycling materials.

Visy Recycling uses much of the material collected for its own manufacturing processes and have export and local markets for any overflow. All exports from Visy are carried out in accordance with all relevant regulations and their own quality systems.

Visy pays Yarra a rebate for recycling material, therefore if Visy do not sell on or reuse recycling material they would be at a loss. The price of these materials is controlled by market forces and recycling companies need to deal with the market fluctuations.

The market for glass is a problem at the moment and not within the control of Visy. Glass is sold by Visy to the local market. Visy have been advocating for the State Government to work with them to develop new markets for glass.

Visy has released a statement in response to the ABC Four Corners episode, available below. 

What checks do you do to make sure Visy Recycling is fulfilling its contract?

We receive a monthly report from Visy which tells us how many tonnes of recycling has gone into the Banyule Recycling Facility and what component of the recycling ended up as residual waste.

For example if Yarra sent 1,000 tonnes of material to Visy and we had 5% contamination; then 50 tonnes would have been sent to landfill. This is standard industry practice.

We also meet with Visy Recycling for bi-monthly contract meetings.

Where does my household recycling go?

The recyclable material from your household recycling bins is delivered directly to the Visy Banyule Material Recovery Facility (MRF) by the collection vehicles.

Due to the limited space at the Banyule MRF the material cannot be stockpiled and is sorted quickly into a number of categories including:

Paper/cardboard (boxes, pizza trays, toilet rolls, egg cartons, envelopes, paper)
The recovered paper and cardboard is used for new paper and cardboard manufacture at the Visy Paper Mills with excess materials exported as a commodity.

Plastic containers (hard plastic bottles, hard plastic containers)
The recovered plastics are used for the manufacture of new plastic bottles and containers. Plastic materials such as PET and HDPE are recycled in Sydney and excess materials are sold to local and international markets.

Milk containers/juice containers
The recovered milk and juice containers are used to manufacture new containers

Aluminium (cans and foil)
The recovered aluminium material is used to manufacture new aluminium cans and aluminium products.

Steel (steel cans, aerosol cans)

The recovered steel is sold back to the industries that manufacture them, and is then used to make similar products cans.

Glass (bottles and jars)
The recovered glass is sent to the Visy Glass Recycling Plant at Laverton in Victoria for sorting into separate colours. This material is then used as a raw material for other products.


What happens to contaminated recycling materials?

Recycling materials that are contaminated with non-recyclables are sent to landfill.

How much of recycling is classified ‘contaminated’?

Excluding crushed glass, the rate of contamination in recyclable materials at the Banyule MRF is between 7% and 8%. Glass fines (crushed glass) contamination can be up to 20% to 30%.

What does Yarra do to encourage recycling by residents and businesses?

At Yarra, sustainability is one of our core values. We play a key role in educating our community on how to recycle. We also regularly audit recycling materials to inform these community programs. We have also have a waste minimisation strategy. Find out more about how we encourage sustainability in Yarra.

Visy Statement

Visy has released the below statement following the ABC Four Corners episode “Trashed: The dirty truth about your rubbish”, which aired on Monday 7 August 2017. 

“Visy sees kerbside recycling as an opportunity for closed loop manufacturing.  Visy is uniquely positioned within Australian industry, as both one of Australia’s largest recyclers and a major producer of packaging products, many of which have recycled content. 

In Australia, Visy annually receives in excess of 850,000 tonnes per annum of material from the kerbside recycling system.  Currently the largest volume of material collected in recycling bins is paper, from which Visy produces recycled paper for cardboard products at its papers mills in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.   

From the Australian kerbside recycling system, Visy also receives other recyclable materials, such as glass, aluminium and steel.  These materials are generally sold domestically or exported for recycling in the most suitable end markets.   

With respect to glass specifically, Visy receives in excess of 270,000 tonnes per annum of glass from the Australian kerbside recycling system.  Visy has a range options to process this glass for recycling, both directly and through third party arrangements.  Recycled glass can be used for glass bottle manufacturing or blended for use in a range of infrastructure projects.  Following processing, there can be residual glass materials that are currently not wanted or usable by the glass manufacturing or infrastructure industries and are therefore uneconomical to process.  Visy continues to investigate other opportunities and markets for this material.  

Visy does receive non-recyclable waste materials from the kerbside recycling system.  Consumer behaviour is critical to ensuring that non-recyclable waste materials are not placed in the kerbside recycling bin as these may ruin good recyclable materials and stop them from being recycled.  Visy supports councils educating the community to ensure that the right material is placed in the right kerbside bin.  

Visy encourages councils and governments at all levels to support the growth of sustainable, domestic markets for recyclable materials including glass, similar to Visy’s local paper manufacturing.  This will help to ensure a healthy recycling industry in Australia.”  



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