News, Victoria

Infrastructure Victoria calls out state’s ‘inconsistent’ recycling

Infrastructure Victoria (IV) has highlighted unreliable recycling practices and policies across state and local governments and appealed to the state government to bring these to a unified standard.

In a report released today, IV also suggested upgrading or building new processing infrastructure for six priority materials – plastics, paper, cardboard, glass, organics, tyres and e-waste – would create over 5000 new jobs and create high quality, recycled products for use in major infrastructure projects, manufacturing and agriculture. This is positive news as a way of addressing the deep unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic’s economic impact.

“Victoria can transform its resource and recycling sector to recover up to 90% of our waste with $1 billion of investment in infrastructure from both government and the private sector by 2039,” the report stated.

Regions to benefit

Regional Victoria stands to benefit most from significantly increased processing capacity, with the advice recommending 52 out of 87 new or upgraded facilities be located outside of metropolitan Melbourne.

By processing materials from both Melbourne and local areas, regional Victoria can provide products, such as compost for agriculture, closer to end users, reducing transport costs and creating new jobs and services.

Infrastructure Victoria CEO Michel Masson said the advice delivered today contains all the elements for Victoria to develop a world-class recycling and resource recovery system within the next two decades.

“We need to use less, recycle more and collect our waste smarter so that we are recovering its value and not relying on export markets to deal with our waste,” Mr Masson said.

“By encouraging investment in new infrastructure and developing new uses for recycled products, we can transform to a circular economy.”

The report finds Victoria will need to boost its recycling capacity by more than three million tonnes to 2039 to meet targets and address the issues of stockpiling and illegal dumping.

Other key recommendations include:

  • Provide ongoing behaviour change programs to help Victorians support best practice recycling
  • Introduce standardised bins and kerbside recycling across all councils to limit contamination
  • Support the establishment of safe and clean waste to energy facilities for waste that cannot be recycled
  • Provide greater clarity of roles and responsibilities for Victorian Government bodies involved in recycling and resource recovery
  • Collaborate with the Australian government to foster a repair culture and expand product stewardship and producer responsibility schemes
  • Consider levies or bans on specific materials, such as non-recyclable coffee cups, where viable alternatives exist

The report’s 13 recommendations were developed in consultation with government and industry stakeholders to align with the recently released Recycling Victoria: a new economy policy and associated programs like Recycled first.

In response to the report, Victorian environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was on track to “reduce rubbish, create thousands of jobs, and create a more sustainable Victoria”.