Ballarat continues to be in the dark about the extent of the environmental and financial ramifications of Australia's current recycling disaster.
While City of Ballarat confirmed that recycling provider SKM expected to be able to take material again from next week, it's not set in stone.
The municipality stated they would have to "explore alternatives" to stockpiling recycling until the Geelong SKM plant is reopened if the shutdown stretches on.
"The advice from SKM is, subject to an EPA sign-off, is that they will be in a position to receive the City of Ballarat's recycling materials from next week," City of Ballarat's director of infrastructure and environment, Terry Demeo said.
"However, the City of Ballarat has limited stockpile capacity, and would have to explore alternatives in the event SKM was not operable from next week."
Golden Plains Shire and Pyrenees Shire utilise the City of Ballarat-owned Smythesdale Landfill. Both councils have revealed they are dumping any recycling material collected into waste, increasing the speed at which cells at the Smythesdale Landfill are filled.
Ballarat's recycling woes have been driven by two of SKM's Melbourne plants being closed by the EPA for dangerous stockpiling.
If the voluntary Geelong closure to avoid an EPA notice continues, it will give way to higher waste costs for residents, as they pay for landfill to be constructed at a faster rate.
China announced from January 1 last year it would no longer import and process Australia’s recycling waste.
Constructing a new landfill cell costs Ballarat around $1.68 million. Last year, the city's waste levy went up 10 per cent to $339.51, as a direct result of increased recycling costs.
La Vergne Lehmann, the head of the Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, said "unknowns" are making the situation difficult, as few councils or contractors have clarity on when plants will reopen.
"It is challenging because without knowing exactly how long, you can store for a period, you can even say to your community you are going to landfill for a period … But if you don’t actually know when that end date it is makes it really hard because you can’t plan," she said.
"We don’t want those stockpiling issues to be transferred to councils because that is the exact same problem and that is what caused the fires SKM had in 2017."
She said as the state's two other major players, VISY and Polytrade, take more recycling in the wake of SKM closures, they are "potentially going to end up with the same problem" as SKM.
Thirty-two of the state's municipalities are contracted to SKM. Alternatives have been costly, with Port Phillip Council sending 400 tonnes of recycling to landfill for $52,000, as of last week.
Ballarat council budgeted around $13.8 million for landfill upkeep, rubbish collection and transfer station in the current financial year.
Golden Plains Shire said they share residents' disappointment in kerbside recycling being sent to landfill.
The shire said they could not reveal how many additional tonnes of matter had gone into landfill since SKM's Geelong plant closure on February 21, as the waste and recycling streams had been mixed.
On Thursday, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) called for the state government to provide relief funding to councils affected by the shutdown.
The association has created a recycling action plan, which includes introducing a container deposit scheme, increased oversight into recycling from the state government, and requiring all packaging to carry logos to tell the public if they can be recycled or not.