Australia’s recycling industry is struggling right now; we produce more recycling than we have places for it to go. We need to change how we recycle as individuals, as a community and as a municipality.
We want to help fix the recycling industry, create local jobs and use waste as a resource, instead of sending it to landfill.
What’s wrong with recycling today?
When your recycling is collected it is transported to a sorting facility where the recyclables are separated into different streams. Contamination occurs when the wrong items are placed in the recycling bin. This is a problem because the contamination is difficult to remove and often ends up ruining the quality of other recyclables, making them difficult to recycle into new products.
Examples of contamination are plastic bags, clothing, non-recyclable plastics and broken glass. Glass breaks when it is collected and as it is sorted. The broken glass mixes with paper, cardboard and plastic products, further decreasing the quality of all the recycling.
These contaminated recyclables are low quality and it is hard to find markets for them to be made into new products.
Traditionally these low grade recyclables were sent primarily to Asia, China in particular, which had a great demand for resources. But last year, China, decided that it would only accept high quality, low contamination recyclables. This meant that much of the recycling from Australia was now even more difficult to find markets for.
Food and green waste
Up to 50% of the waste sent to landfill in Australia is food waste. When it decomposes in landfill, food waste emits methane, which is at least 28 times more damaging than carbon dioxide, creating a huge contribution to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
To overcome this, we want to treat our waste differently and at the same time boost Yarra’s local recycling industry.
We are now looking to rely on local workers, local businesses and local ideas, to process our waste and give it a new life.
How we’re fixing the problems
We’re collecting specific items that we know are valuable to the Australian recycling industry, ensuring that they’ll find a new life as a new product and not end up in landfill or overseas.
We’re collecting glass separately, so that it doesn’t break and contaminate our general recycling and turning it into new glass products. Any glass which can’t be recycled back into bottles will be used in road resurfacing works here in Yarra.
And we’re collecting your food waste, processing it to reduce emissions and turning it into nutritious compost that will be used on local farms and council gardens — helping to keep Yarra green.
With your help, the Yarra Waste Revolution will:
- make Yarra cleaner, greener, and its economy more circular
- create new Victorian jobs, support our recycling industry and boost our local economy
- make our recycled materials cleaner and more valuable, ensuring that they get a new life
- result in less waste going to landfill, where we are very quickly running out of space
- reduce our emissions as a community, and lessen our contribution to climate change.
You can also download information from the Revolution Kit about why we’re making the Yarra Waste Revolution happen.