Coronavirus update 13 March 2020

COVID-19 restrictions: what's closed and what's open.

You may have seen the news about SKM’s closure and inability to accept and process recycling. Under previous arrangements, Cleanaway, our recycling collection contractor, was taking Boroondara’s recyclables to SKM for processing. Due to SKM’s closure, our recyclables collected between Friday 26 July 2019 and Friday 2 August 2019 had to be sent to landfill.

Our community doesn’t want us to send recycling to landfill as this would be ethically irresponsible. Council staff have worked for many weeks with Cleanaway to coordinate a solution which avoids sending more kerbside recycling to landfill.

I am happy to say this hard work has paid off. From today, Monday 5 August, 100 per cent of our recyclable material will be processed via VISY and will not go to landfill. This arrangement will also help Council avoid bearing additional landfill costs.

With many Councils still being forced to send recycling to landfill, Boroondara calls on the Victorian Government to outline their long term plan for Victoria’s recycling industry. One of the factors in the current recycling crisis is the inability of Victoria’s current infrastructure to manage all of the state’s recyclable materials.

Council maintains its position that the Victorian Government must be more proactive with its $500 million sustainability fund, collected as a waste levy from all Victorians. A long-term plan for recycling in this state is needed. A system which relies on shipping waste overseas, recyclable or not, is not sustainable.

Boroondara residents play a critical role in reducing the amount of waste produced in homes, offices and businesses. Council’s website has useful resources to help reduce the amount of overall household waste and to avoid creating waste in the first place:

Residents also need to remain vigilant about avoiding contamination in recycling. Some tips for this include:

  • scrape all food scraps and residue off recycling before putting it in the recycling bin
  • don’t put soft plastics (plastic bags, plastic food wrappers, etc) in the recycling bin
  • don’t put recycling into plastic bags – put loose items into the recycling bin for the processor to sort (items in plastic bags do not get sorted or recycled).

If you’re uncertain if an item is a soft/flexible plastic, a good rule of thumb is this: if you can scrunch the plastic into a ball in your hand, it’s a flexible plastic and needs to go in general waste, or better still, recycle at the supermarket at Coles or Woolworths. If not, it’s hard plastic that can go into your recycling bin loose (e.g. plastic bottles).

Contaminated recycling is a major worldwide issue. Processors charge contamination penalties, which in Council’s case can reach can up to $300,000 a year. These costs ultimately flow back to residents via the waste charge. Guidance about what goes in your recycling is available on the recycling bin page of Boroondara’s website.

Council remains committed to proactively implementing initiatives for sustainable waste management, such as the introduction of a food organics and garden organics waste service (FOGO), which will be implemented next year.

Boroondara Mayoral Blog