Waste and recycling FAQs

Want to learn more about why we have changed your recycling system in Yarra? We’ve answered some frequently asked questions about Yarra’s new service below, or visit our waste and recycling help centre to find answers to your questions. 

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Why has our recycling collection changed?

For a long time, Australia has relied on other countries to take our recycling. 

In 2018, China placed a ban on importing recyclable materials, sending Australia’s recycling industry into crisis. In response to this, the Australian Government has placed a ban exporting recyclable papers, plastic, glass and tyres.

Yarra Council has worked towards a more sustainable recycling service since the recycling collapse in 2018.

From now on, Yarra is only accepting items that can be recycled in Australia. This will allow us to help to grow our local industry, create jobs and ensure we can recycle here into the future.

Why have we been given a new bin?

The new purple-lidded glass bin allows you to keep glass separate from other recycling in your yellow-lidded bin.

When glass is not separated from other recyclables, it often breaks in the collection process and sticks in other recycling such as plastic or paper, making those items harder to recycle.

Collecting glass separately helps us to improve the quality of what we collect, and use what’s thrown out to make new products. The glass bin also creates a clean stream of glass that can be reused in the local markets.

Why have you changed the items that can go into our regular recycling bin?

From now on, Yarra is only accepting items that can be recycled in Australia. This will help grow our local industry, create jobs and ensure that we can recycle here in the future. 

Plastic is much harder to recycle, and it is hard to quickly distinguish between different types during the sorting process. 

That is why we are only accepting types of plastics in your yellow-lidded recycling bin that we know can be made into new products. 

Find out more about what can go in your yellow-lidded recycling bin

Why do we have fortnightly recycling collections?

We have moved to a fortnightly collection by collecting glass recycling separately, adjusting bin sizes and combinations and being flexible to the needs of individual households  and multi-unit developments.  

There are a number of advantages for fortnightly collection schedules, including that it is:

  • More cost effective and allows us to roll out the new glass bin at no extra cost to ratepayers.
  • Keeps the amount of rubbish and recycling vehicles on our streets to a minimum, which reduces congestion, minimises wear and tear on our roads and reduces vehicle emissions.
  • Reduces the amount of bins on the street on collection days.

Most other Victorian councils have demonstrated that fortnightly collection is achievable, after the first local council in Victoria moved to fortnightly collections in 2003. 

How did you decide the structure of the new service?

Our new baseline service was based on a combination of research, data and bin audits. 

Analysis was carried out to determine what the average ideal bin combination and collection schedule would be for a 4-bin waste and recycling system, noting that the Victorian Government requires all local councils to separate waste into 4 streams by 2030. This was done using data from rubbish and recycling collections across Yarra. 

Unfortunately, due to the impacts of COVID-19, we were unable to proceed with the roll-out of a 4-bin service, however we are committed to introducing a service to separate food and organics collections.

We trialled this system with 1,300 households in Abbotsford, to help us determine what different individual needs would be for different type of households and properties. 

We also sent multi-unit developments, such as apartments, information packs with a survey so that we could asses their needs before we rolled out the 3-bin service. 

One size does not fit all properties in Yarra, so while it was necessary to identify the best average service, we are committed to being flexible in our approach and will make adjustments based on individual households’, multi-unit sites and business’s needs.

How does Yarra’s service compare to other Victorian councils? 

There are 79 local government areas in Victoria. Of these, 72 councils collect recycling fortnightly, and 7 collect recycling weekly. Fortnightly recycling collections were first established by a council in Victoria in 2003. 

The Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Hobsons Bay City Council are two councils that along with Yarra have recently moved to fortnightly collections. 

Yarra is one of only four councils in Victoria that currently offer a separate glass bin, although all other councils in Victoria will have a similar system in place by 2030. In response to the recycling crisis in Australia, the Victorian Government is rolling out a new four-bin waste and recycling system in partnership with local councils, with the goal of most households in Victoria receiving the new system by 2030. 

What was Yarra Council’s decision making process?

In Tuesday 18 February 2020, Yarra Councillors voted to roll out a four-bin system that has been trialled in parts of Abbotsford since June 2019. This roll out was then delayed due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

At its meeting on Tuesday 23 June 2020, Yarra Council endorsed a recommendation that:

(a) Council endorse the roll out of a glass bin only in October 2020;
(b) Council endorse a fortnightly collection for recycling and a fortnightly collection of glass only; and
(c) appropriate communications commence with the community and relevant stakeholders to prepare for an October 2020 glass bin roll out.

Did Yarra Council work with any community members when designing the new service?

We began trialling a 4-bin waste and recycling system with 1,300 households in Abbotsford in June 2019. This area was chosen because it has a good mix of different types of households and properties. 

During late September and early October 2019, a community survey was conducted across the trial area to identify community sentiment towards the changes and provide data to evaluate the effectiveness of the service models, the communications strategy and assess this model for a potential full-scale rollout across Yarra. 

We received 407 individual responses to the survey, just over one third of households. This high response rate allowed us to have the confidence that the views and opinions gathered in the survey are representative of the trial community.

79% of respondents told us they think these changes are an improvement in managing waste and just under 90% support separating their waste for collection.

Why have you not rolled out a separate bin for food and organic waste?

In February 2020 Yarra Council endorsed the roll out of a 4-bin waste and recycling service for the proposed date of June 2020. This was then deferred due to the budget impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The decision was then made to first roll out a 3-bin recycling service with separate glass collection in order to improve the quality of the recyclable material we collect. We are in the planning stages of the food and organic waste stream also known as FOGO.

The glass bin was prioritised because when glass is not separated from other recyclables, it often breaks in the collection process and sticks in other recycling such as plastic or paper, making those items harder to recycle. By collecting it separately, we can help ensure that our recycling will be made into new products. It was also possible to introduce this service at no additional cost to the community. The introduction of the 4-bin system was estimated to be a greater cost, and not affordable in the context of other costs during the pandemic.

What resources have you made available to help residents adjust to the new service?

We understand that the new recycling service is a big change, and it will take some time to get it right.

That’s why we have a number of initiatives and resources available for residents and businesses, along with an ongoing community education and engagement campaign. 
These resources include:

We’re also working with our community to put in place new initiatives as needed. 

Have these changes impacted on Yarra Council rates?

No, Yarra doesn’t have a separate charge for waste, so your rates are not impacted because of changes to our recycling service.

The additional recycling service is provided to you at no cost.