A six-bin system is one option that Victoria could implement to improve resource recovery in the state, according to a preliminary report handed to the Victorian government by Infrastructure Victoria.
The proposed solution would see households in Victoria provided with six bins to separate paper, glass, metal, plastic, organic material and “other” waste.
On October 20, Infrastructure Victoria, an independent advisory body, announced it had handed the state government its early findings on how to improve the waste sector, after being asked by the government to provide advice.
The base report, Recycling and Resource Recovery Infrastructure, highlighted the fact that recycling services differ across Victoria’s 79 local councils.
Processors have different standards for materials, resulting in councils accepting different materials in recycling collections. There are also multiple approaches to organics collection, including combining food and garden organics in some councils, while bin lid colours differ in colour and meaning across council areas.
Differences between council approaches can lead to confusion and contamination of material streams, the report indicated. In some councils, there is no separate organics collection at all, representing a significant “missed opportunity”.
The reported stated that Victorians nearly doubled the total waste generated between 2000 and 2018 from 7.4M tonnes to 13.4M tonnes each year.
Two waste sources make up the bulk of all waste going to landfill – businesses generate 33 per cent and food makes up 20 per cent.
Infrastructure Victoria surveyed 1,000 Victorians to understand their attitudes and perceptions of how they sort their waste at home, and their willingness to change their behaviour.
The organisation found that the majority of Victorians feel it is important to reduce landfill waste (93 per cent), and they consistently recycle when provided with a kerbside recycling bin (85 per cent).
Mistrust in the system acts as a barrier to people recycling, with some people thinking their recycling goes to landfill anyway (25 per cent). Furthermore, 90 per cent of households surveyed are open to changing how they sort their waste.
Infrastructure Victoria CEO Michel Masson said that after a thorough investigation of the recycling and resource recovery sector, exciting opportunities exist for investment, new processes and community action.
“To waste less and recycle more, governments, communities and businesses all need to play their parts. We have all learnt to use less water and power, now we have to apply the same principles to waste,” Masson said.
Possible actions to improve resource recovery and waste avoidance in the state include:
- Developing a clear, overarching policy framework including recycling targets and waste-to-energy;
- Supporting councils to implement more consistent approaches to sorting and collecting waste, helping to reduce contamination in household recycling collection;
- Better planning, locating and protecting waste management sites;
- Working with the Commonwealth and other states to reduce packaging and single-use plastics; and
- Increasing the use of recycled materials by eliminating barriers and updating government procurement guidelines.
The report can be found on Infrastructure Victoria’s website and it is open for feedback until December 13.
Infrastructure Victoria aims to deliver its final report in April 2020.