The revolution comes to Yarra

Monday 24 February 2020

Yarra Waste Revolution and Yarra Council logo on a yellow background

Waste and recycling services in Yarra will soon be revolutionised. 

In February, Yarra Councillors voted to roll out the four bin system that has been trialled in parts of Abbotsford since June 2019. 

Your waste and recycling won’t change until later this year, so please keep recycling and putting your bins out for collection as usual.

For the past 9 months, 1,300 households in Abbotsford have been participating in the Yarra Waste Revolution and sorting their waste and recycling into four bins:

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

And there’s been a dramatic reduction in waste going to landfill. Households in the trial area are now diverting about 60% of their waste from landfill (up from 35% before).

Now, we are working out the exact details and timings of the rollout and will provide you with everything you need before the new system begins.

Since the Abbotsford trial began, 118 tonnes of food and green waste have been diverted from landfill and 75 tonnes of recycling and 63 tonnes of glass have been recycled here in Australia. (Figures correct at 28 January 2020.)

We’re excited to be bringing this revolutionary waste system to all of Yarra. And we hope you are too. 

Almost 80% of those of you who have been involved so far in our trial have told us they think these changes are an improvement in managing waste. 

We surveyed over 400 residents in the trial area and almost 90% support separating their waste for collection and 79% agree that the trial has had positive benefits for the environment.

One residents told us: “It’s great to be a part of a positive change and we hope it is made permanent.” 

Another said: “I am very glad that this revolution is happening. Many other countries have been doing this for years and Australia needs to catch up.”

Why are we doing this?

By separating our glass, collecting only the recycling that can be processed here in Australia and composting our food waste, we will be helping to create local jobs and make sure we keep resources circulating, which are lost when they enter landfill.

And, if needed, we can provide bigger landfill bins for large households, multiple children in nappies, medical conditions and a range of other circumstances. 

We want everyone to be able to embrace this change and help us tackle Australia’s recycling crisis.

How can I stay up to date?

Don’t worry, we’ll be sharing lots of information about the changes – and one way you can stay up to date is through our Yarra Life fortnightly email newsletter. 

Find out more about when the revolution will reach you. 

Sign up today

What can I do in the meantime?

There’s lots you can do before the new system starts. You can still play your part by being mindful of the products you buy and the amount of waste you generate. 

You can also help by choosing products made with recycled materials.

Read more about reducing the amount of waste you create

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, plus Sustainability Victoria has more tips.

We also have a number of recycling drop off points in Yarra where you can recycle items not collected in your recycling bin. We are also collecting glass separately at our Clifton Hill drop off point. Read more about our drop off points.

What if I have concerns about the new system?

We have worked with residents in the trial area to test out this new system. Some of the issues they raised have been: 

  • Bin sizes: A range of bin sizes will be available including both smaller and larger bins. We will work with residents and property managers to ensure we can find the right bin options to suit your needs.
  • Capacity: Households will have 50L more bin capacity in the new system each week. Currently, each household has a 120L recycling bin and 80L landfill bin picked up weekly (total 220L). In the new system, households will have 120L food and green waste picked up each week, and 80L landfill, 120L recycling and 60L glass picked up each fortnight. That’s a total of 500L every fortnight, which means an increase of 50L each week. 
  • Concerns about smells: Generally the smell generated from the landfill bin is due to organic material such as food and green waste. You will have a food and green waste bin for these materials, which will substantially reduce the smell from your landfill bin. The food and green waste bin will be collected every week. 
  • Nappies: If your family uses a lot of nappies, we will work with you and provide a larger bin at no additional cost if that’s what you need. In the trial area, the issue with nappies was bin capacity not smell.

What are some of the issues in recycling today?

Glass can create contamination in kerbside recycling bins. Broken glass damages the quality of the other materials, including plastics, paper and cardboard. 

By removing glass from the other recycling it is 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, with 90% of the glass being made into new glass containers and the rest replacing virgin sand in 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 (garbage) bin will dramatically reduce the amount of material going to landfill.

Yarra Mayor, Councillor Misha Coleman, said: “It’s time we did things very, very differently and councils and communities like ours are providing the leadership to drive change in this industry.

“There is a growing trend of councils moving to greater separation of waste to reduce reliance on unsustainable landfills and to improve reuse of recyclable materials. Eleven other councils in Victoria are moving to a fortnightly landfill waste collection service.”

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