Hand scrunching plastic

Victorian Government delivers on recycling

The Victorian Government has released the $37 million Recycling Industry Strategic Plan to strengthen Victoria's recycling industry. This brings the Victorian Government's total investment in waste and resource recovery initiatives to more than $100 million over the last four years.

Recycling Industry Strategic Plan

In July 2018 the government launched the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan - a $37 million blueprint for a safe, resilient and efficient recycling system in Victoria.

This includes funding for key initiatives:

  • An additional $8.3 million to boost the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund to more than $21 million. This will improve the quality of up to 100,000 tonnes of recycled material, including through better sorting and processing.
  • A further $2 million to establish and expand markets for recycled materials - boosting the market development program to $4.5 million.
  • $3.3 million for an education program to help the community recycle effectively.

The plan includes the $13 million support package announced in February to help councils and industry in the short term, which followed China's decision to stop importing low-quality recyclable materials.

You can read a summary in the fact sheet, or read the full plan below.

Fact sheet - Recycling Industry Strategic Plan

Recycling Industry Strategic Plan

The plan has been developed to support industry in the medium to long-term, minimise recycling costs for Victorian households, and build a resilient recycling sector in Victoria.

The recycling industry, manufacturers, local governments, and environment groups were consulted as part of its development.

The plan's goals are to:

  • stabilise the recycling sector, particularly in the wake of China's new trade measures
  • increase the quality of recycled materials
  • improve the recycling sector's diversity and productivity
  • develop markets for recycled materials.

Frequently asked questions about the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan are answered here.

Circular economy policy

One of the key actions in the plan will see the government develop a circular economy policy by 2020. The policy will build on the government's existing waste and resource recovery initiatives, and help minimise waste and maximise recovery and re-use of materials.

Short term assistance package

In February 2018, the Victoria Government announced a $13 million assistance package from the Sustainability Fund, to support councils and industry to respond to changed market conditions, and ensure the ongoing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste.

Temporary relief funding arrangements for local governments

All Victorian local governments were eligible to apply for grant funding to cover a portion of price rises directly associated with kerbside recycling services.

The total funding available of $12 million was offered to all councils on a non-competitive basis at a fixed flat rate per tonne of collected recyclable materials for the period 1 March - 30 June 2018.

78 of Victoria's 79 councils have taken up this funding offer.

Short term industry relief package

A $1 million Recycling Industry Transition Support grants program was made available to Victoria's recycling sector to assist the transition to new market conditions.

The objective of the program is to support Victoria's resource recovery sector to rapidly improve its capability and capacity to recover and reprocess plastics, paper and cardboard waste to a commercial grade, enabling supply to more local and international markets.

The program provides grants of up to $500,000 for works to be contracted by 30 December 2018. For more information about the program visit the Sustainability Victoria website.

Woman using the recycling green bin

Victorians should continue to recycle

It’s more important than ever for Victorians to keep recycling and recycle correctly.

The good news is that 86% of our recyclables are already processed here in Victoria.

The Victorian Government, local councils and the recycling industry are working hard to ensure changes to global markets, prompted by China's new trade measures, have limited impact on our recycling system.

Victorians have a great record when it comes to recycling. Since 2001, the amount of recyclable household material diverted from landfill has increased by 64 per cent. It is important we maintain this momentum and build on these strengths to meet the current challenge.

All Victorians are urged to continue to carefully separate recyclable from non-recyclable materials and place them in the correct bin. Putting the wrong items in the wrong bins can result in problems once your recycling has been collected.

It's also important to note that recycling services differ from council to council. You can remind yourself what can and can’t be recycled by visiting the Sustainability Victoria website or checking with your local council.

China's new trade measures

At the beginning of this year, China introduced new trade measures that limit the import of low quality mixed recyclables, including paper and plastic. This policy change has had an impact globally, as many countries have relied on China as a major part of their markets for recycled materials.

China has not completely banned the import of all recycled plastic and paper, but now requires a cleaner and more processed version of these materials.

Many Victorian recyclers are currently taking steps to respond to these changes, including upgrading their recycling infrastructure so that they are capable of meeting China’s new standards, and finding new markets. However, some of these changes will take time.

In the meantime, the recycling industry and local councils are considering how to manage recyclable materials that would otherwise have been exported while longer term solutions are put in place.

What else is the Victorian Government doing?

Victoria is the first Australian jurisdiction to have in place a comprehensive, long-term waste and resource recovery infrastructure planning framework. The framework was finalised in July 2017 and consists of the 30-year Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan and seven 10-year Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plans. Together, these plans set out the infrastructure we need to manage and recover resources from waste.

The Government is also investing at record levels in programs to develop markets for recovered resources, facilitate private investment in resource recovery infrastructure, and educate households and businesses about how to better manage waste.

The 2018-19 budget also provided $25.9 million for waste and resource recovery. You can read about this investment in the Fact Sheet Waste and Resource Recovery - Budget 2018-19.

Frequently Asked Questions

What else can I do?

Victorians are great recyclers and we’ve worked hard to build our recycling system.

But we can all do more to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place – whether it is recyclable or otherwise. Using reusable drink bottles and coffee cups is a great start.

We can also help to close the recycling loop within Victoria by buying recycled products, such as Australian-made recycled office paper and 100 per cent recycled toilet tissue.

How does recycling work?

It takes a coordinated effort between local councils, recycling and processing facilities, waste management groups, as well as the companies that turn raw recycled materials into new products.

You can read more about the process:

What will happen in the short term to paper and plastic that was previously being exported?

Some companies may store materials as an interim measure while they implement longer term measures, including infrastructure upgrades and new markets.

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring any storage of recyclable material is done safely. 

The Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce will continue its work in ensuring these stockpiles are managed in a way that is compliant with the interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities).

Did you know?

  • Victoria recycles most of its waste locally.
  • Of the 12.7 million tonnes of waste generated by Victorians in 2015-16, 8.5 million tonnes (67%) was diverted from landfill for recycling and 7.3 million tonnes of that stayed in Victoria.
  • The materials affected by China’s new trade measures – paper and plastic – make up a relatively small share of this total. 
  • In 2015‑16, the Victorian waste industry exported 33% of all paper (511,000 tonnes) and 14% of all plastic recovered in Victoria (21,000 tonnes) to China.

Page last updated: 21/11/2018