While Ballarat missed out on receiving funding for its next-generation recycling scheme, the city's new mayor said getting an all-waste interchange off the ground is still a priority.
This week, the federal and state governments awarded $8 million in the first round of a $46 million recycling infrastructure fund to several sites in western Melbourne, Warrnambool, and Mildura.
These sites will help prop up the state's recycling system, which was strongly affected by the Chinese government's decision to stop importing most types of waste from around the world.
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In Ballarat, council has explored several options to help reduce the burden - the most visible day-to-day is the decision to remove glass from recycling bins.
It's not unusual for many residents to keep a box of glass to take to one of the drop-off sites scattered around town.
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That glass is then recycled into the new products or ground up for road base.
On a larger scale, while council signed a contract to expand the Smythesdale landfill late last year, there have been other ideas investigated.
One was building an all-waste interchange, preferably at a greenfield site at the Ballarat West Employment Zone - this would take waste from the city, and possibly its neighbours and from further afield, to be sorted and redistributed.
Council committed $5 million to building the facility, with the expectation this will be matched with further funding from other levels of government.
Another idea floated was building a large waste-to-energy plant, which could support further industry in BWEZ and surrounds - this has been put on hold, despite preliminary agreements being signed in 2018 with a Malaysian company.
City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney said while it's disappointing not to receive funding in the first round, it's an opportunity to refine the idea to get the best outcome.
"Having a waste and recycling interchange is still really important to us - it's about trying to find the best parcel of land, and there's a few different locations at BWEZ that could work really well," he said.
"We also need to spend some time this year figuring out what size we want it to be - is it something that just serves the municipality of Ballarat, or something bigger than that, which covers the region?"
While the waste-to-energy plan was ultimately unfeasible - "it depended on it requiring a massive amount of waste coming in not just from our region but also from western Melbourne, to the point where you become basically a dumping ground," Cr Moloney said - Ballarat could form new partnerships to pilot bigger recycling and circular economy projects.
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"The problem is, where this keeps getting held up at times, it seems like an insurmountable challenge with so many facets to it," he said.
"I really do think we need to sit around the table with government, with Sustainability Victoria, and have both organisations in a joint leadership role in using Ballarat as a test case, for how you can do this well throughout the rest of the state."
A state government spokesperson said they weren't able to comment on specific projects seeking funding, but councils are welcome to apply for the second round of funding in March.
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