The future of recycling in Yarra

Sunday 28 April 2019

Person putting a plastic bottle in a recycling bin

We need to change how we recycle: as individuals, as a community and as a municipality. 

Our current model of consumption and waste is not working for the planet, environment or our community. We’re all part of the waste system and together must all be part of the solution.

Household recyclables in Yarra are being collected and processed as usual so please keep recycling and putting your bins out for collection.

But we also know that recycling in Australia is in trouble. It’s time we did things differently.

Our long-term ambition is to move our community towards producing zero waste – first through waste avoidance and secondly through using waste as a resource.

What is Yarra doing?

We are being proactive and exploring new ways to collect and manage your recycling. We want to help fix the recycling industry, create local jobs and use waste as a resource, instead of sending it to landfill.

So, in June, Yarra will start a trial across approximately 1,300 households in the Abbotsford area that has a:

  • garbage collection
  • recycling collection
  • food and garden waste collection
  • glass collection.

The trial will last for about 12 months.

It builds on the successful food and garden waste collection trial we started last year in parts of Abbotsford. Results of that trial have been very positive – residents diverted from landfill approximately 40% of the contents of their kerbside garbage bins by weight.

Contamination rates for food and green waste collections averaged at less than 1%. In our new trial we will be testing different ways we collect recycling, how we talk to the community about recycling and other things to make our service work better.

Following the trial period, we will consider expanding the service throughout Yarra.

Our valued trial partners include our community, the State Government, Sustainability Victoria, RMIT University, Australian Paper Recovery (APR), Four Seasons Waste and Alex Fraser Group.

But there are some other things you can do.

What can you do?

We can all play our part. Be mindful of the products we buy and the amount of waste we generate. We also need to recycle the right way to reduce contamination in our bins. You can also help by choosing products made with recycled materials.

Read more tips for recycling right in Yarra.

Just over 50% of the average waste (garbage) bin is food and garden waste.

Find out how you can help reduce your household’s food waste.

What are some of the issues in recycling today?

Currently the glass in the kerbside recycling bin is creating contamination.

Broken glass damages the quality of the other materials, including plastics, paper, cardboard, steel and aluminium. By removing glass from the other recycling it will be better quality and more valuable to processors.

This will help diversify the market for recyclable materials and help develop domestic markets for recycled products.

A separate stream of glass will create a sustainable supply of quality glass for reuse, such as for the manufacture of asphalt. The higher quality commingled recycling can be recycled back into the domestic processing market, rather than exported.

The lack of available landfill space in Victoria, particularly in metropolitan Melbourne is adding further pressure to the waste and recycling industry. Taking food waste out of the waste (rubbish) bin will dramatically reduce the amount of material going to landfill.

What’s happening in the recycling industry?

China’s National Sword Policy has had a significant impact on the Australian recycling industry. Australia has relied on China taking and processing the recycling in our commingled bins. The Asian markets are no longer accepting our recyclable materials, because they are too contaminated.

For years we’ve ignored the potential of locally processing our recycled materials, like glass, plastics, paper, cardboard, steel and aluminium.

More information

If you would like more information about the trial, please contact us on 9205 5555 or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au

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