Work Underway To Overhaul Victoria’s Recycling System

The Andrews Labor Government will tackle ongoing waste management issues with $11.3 million to provide immediate financial relief to councils and invest in infrastructure to improve the quality of 100,000 tonnes of recycled materials.

SKM had been significantly undercutting the prices of other recycling providers and since they stopped accepting waste, many councils are paying double what they were paying to SKM to divert recycling to other providers.

To alleviate this financial pressure, the Labor Government will deliver a $6.6 million package to the 33 affected councils over the next four months, providing a rebate that will cover the additional costs they are incurring to deal with their recyclable waste.

It has become clear that the quality of Australia’s recyclable material is compromised due to its high rate of contamination. To that end, the Labor Government will also work with councils and industry stakeholders on a major overhaul of kerbside collection to improve the quality of recyclables being collected by councils.

This may include extra bins for households to improve the separation of waste, making it easier to recycle this material.

At the most recent Council of Australian Governments meeting, the Prime Minister acknowledged that recyclable waste is a national issue, as well as an opportunity to rebuild a domestic recycling sector that can provide products to local markets.

To achieve this, targets will also be considered to drive investment in end uses, such as glass for road base and railway sleepers made from plastics.

This package delivers immediate financial relief to councils, while providing an incentive for councils to seek alternative options to landfill for their waste.

The relief package to councils will be conditional on:

  • Evidence that alternative options to landfill are sought to ensure as much material as possible is recycled
  • Councils agreeing to be fully transparent regarding future waste contracts, as well as incorporating model contract provisions
  • Councils providing information on current contractual rates and conditions, and details on where the waste is diverted to such as landfill, storage or a recycling destination
  • Councils agree to participate in collaborative procurement
  • Councils working with the Labor Government to reduce waste over the longer term and work towards a ban on exporting recyclable waste

The Labor Government also stands ready to work with the receiver of SKM Corporate, and any prospective buyer to remove the stockpiles at SKM-managed sites and offsite storage of material.

We are committed to providing support to workers affected by the closure of SKM. We stand ready to assist in connecting these workers to a future provider and will also help connect them to other employers in their local area and providing training opportunities through Free TAFE and our Skills First programs.

The Government has also announced new grants worth $4.7 million, from the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund (RRIF) to support projects worth $18.7 million that will improve the quality of an additional 100,000 tonnes of recycled materials through better sorting and processing.

Quotes Attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“This short-term financial relief supports councils immediately, while all levels of government work together on a longer-term solution that must include an overhaul of kerbside recycling.”

“We believe this financial assistance to councils will help them transition to meeting the real costs of recycling after decades of a failed business model from SKM.”