Creating consistent approaches to recycling across Victoria and improving the separation of household recycling materials should be priority actions for the Victorian government, according to a new recycling report.
The Infrastructure Victoria report on recycling infrastructure says greater separation of waste in homes and businesses can improve the quality of recycling, but establishing viable end markets will need to be a focus for future government policy and investment.
The findings come as tonnes of glass is being collected in Ballarat under a shake-up to the city's kerbside recycling, although no end use for the glass has yet been identified.
Minimising the amount of waste generated in Victoria is likely to be the single most important driver of a more resilient recycling and resource recovery sector.Infrastructure Victoria report
From September 30 Ballarat residents have been asked to take their glass waste to designated drop off points or put it in their landfill bin, as the city's new recycling contractor cannot process glass in regular kerbside recycling.
Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group chief executive La Vergne Lehmann said she was working with councils in the region to investigate the potential to crush glass collected locally for use in road base.
The group has proposed a mobile glass crusher that could travel to different council areas and hopes a trial can be underway in 2020, but Ms Lehmann said a creating a higher value recycled glass product would be preferable.
"It is one thing to put it in roads but ideally you want glass to be recycled back into glass bottles again," she said.
"From a state government perspective, there will be work done to make sure there is some processing of glass available. That is not something that individual councils can easily do."
KEY POINTS FROM THE REPORT:
- A clear policy including recycling targets and waste to energy
- Incentives for businesses to improve recycling performance
- Consistent approach to recycling across all 79 Victorian councils
- Separating food and garden waste
- Better separation of recyclables eg. plastics, paper, glass and metals separated
- Government procurement guidelines for use of recycled materials
- Government policy to establish viable end markets for recyclable materials
- Minimising amount of waste generated
- An ongoing education campaign
- A container deposit scheme designed specifically for Victoria
- Disincentivise the use of virgin materials in production
- Better recycling processing in regional areas
- Long term focus on minimising waste
In addition to establishing viable end markets, the Infrastructure Victoria report focuses on removing food from household landfill waste and the need for a clear policy on waste to energy.
It also recognises the need for recycling processing capacity in the regions that would lower transport costs, create more jobs and a more circular local economy.
In a long term view, Infrastructure Victoria says minimising the amount of waste generated in Victoria is 'likely to be the single most important driver of a more resilient recycling and resource recovery sector'. It also says policy clarity can provide certainty private sector operators need to invest in recycling and resource recovery infrastructure.
READ MORE: Where can I drop off my glass?
Infrastructure Victoria's final advice to the sate government is expected to be released in April with information on the specific types of waste management and recycling infrastructure needed in each region, with prioritisation.
In the meantime, Ms Lehmann said councils were likely to avoid making further changes to their recycling processes and plans until the state government releases its circular economy policy that will guide the future of waste management. The policy is expected to be released later this year.
"We are waiting to see what the state government direction is. That will guide where we go with our education program and the work the councils are doing," she said.
"In the next few months we will hear from the government about the direction of kerbside recycling, how many bins and how it is going to be collected. The circular economy policy will fundamentally change how we view waste and resource recovery and economic development opportunities."