The way Ballarat gets rid of its waste could be changing in a big way, after a major state government policy announcement focusing on encouraging recycling.
The 10-year, $300 million circular economy strategy will be paid for by almost doubling the landfill levy over three years - meaning it will eventually cost $125.90 per tonne to dump waste.
Importantly for residents, this may not mean a sharp increase in rates.
Council rates are separate from the waste charge, which includes the landfill levy.
The state government's new Recycling Victoria policy, announced on Wednesday, will form part of how the waste charge is calculated, but not all of it.
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A City of Ballarat spokesperson said in a statement "the waste charge will be calculated as part of the budget process in the coming months".
The money will be spent on new initiatives like grants for businesses to increase recycling, an education program, and $71 million cracking down on illegal dumping and high-risk sites.
The new policy is a positive to encourage more recycling in the community, according to Grampians and Central West Waste and Resource Recovery executive officer La Vergne Lehmann.
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"The landfill levy is applied to all waste that goes into the landfill," she said.
"If we can encourage people to recycle better, you will pay less in your waste levy, ultimately."
She added increasing the levy - which will still be cheaper than in South Australia or metropolitan New South Wales - in a staged way could lead to more innovation in recyclable material, and less waste sent straight to landfill.
"The reason why is important, and it's an important lever for the government to pull, is the cost of recycling has increased for the government, it's almost more expensive to recycle than to use landfill," she said.
"The impetus to send things away from landfill is not there, so you need the landfill levy.
"The message to the average person on the street is the better you recycle and better you make choices around what you purchase, the less your waste will cost, so less landfill levy will be paid."
Councils have been examining ways to deal with the waste crisis - for example, the City of Ballarat chose to pursue a waste-to-energy system, which would divert waste from landfill.
A state government media release notes funding for waste-to-energy initiatives is included, "recognising its role in an integrated waste recovery system".
The City of Ballarat also introduced skip bins across town for glass recycling in September, to reduce contamination.
Separately, Golden Plains Shire changed its kerbside rubbish pickup schedule to fortnightly about six years ago.
Mayor Owen Sharkie said while it was a contentious change, many residents were now used to it.
"Initially, when it came in, for the first few years, it had a positive effect, people were recycling a lot more," he said.
"But since the recycling crisis last year, the numbers have considerably changed - we were getting paid for recycling, and now we're not, that has an effect.
"What the government is doing, the new bins and whole system, that's what communities right across Victoria have been crying out for."
He cautioned many rural and peri-urban councils, like Golden Plains, have different needs to metropolitan councils.
The state government previously announced mandatory separate glass recycling and a container deposit scheme will be introduced in Victoria this decade, as well as a multi-million dollar recycling business innovation scheme to build a stronger market for recycled goods - the aim is to reduce landfill waste by 80 per cent before 2030.
Waste collection will also become an essential service, data will be collected and studied, and a business innovation centre will be opened.
In a statement, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio said the policy is "the largest package of recycling reforms and investment in Victoria's history".
"It will revolutionise household recycling, drive business innovation and create jobs of the future. Most importantly, it will give Victorians a truly circular economy and recycling system they can rely on," she said.
"For too long, waste crime has undermined Victoria's recycling sector with dangerous and illegal stockpiling. Our investment will help to clean up the industry and make it fairer for businesses that do the right thing."
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