More paper to be recycled as part of new four-bin system and infrastructure upgrades

A Victorian trial proves the new four-bin system will prevent glass contamination in recycled materials like paper and cardboard.

The 2018 China Sword Policy set new trade measures and contamination standards, restricting the import of low quality mixed recyclables. This, and similar policies from other countries, has fuelled the need for Victoria to focus on improving our local recycling system to increase environmental and economic value.

We worked, in partnership with local governments and industry, to transform our recycling system by:

  • decreasing contamination to meet new standards
  • trialling a four-bin system
  • investing in recycling infrastructure to expand local reprocessing capacity and improve the quality of outputs.

Separating glass improves value of recyclables

Glass can be a major contaminant in our recycling system. When it breaks, fragments stick to other materials, particularly paper and cardboard. Preventing contamination increases the value and viability of recycling glass and other recyclable materials into new products.

To reduce glass contamination and improve the recycling sector, we worked with Victorian councils to trial a four-bin system. Yarra City Council were one of the first. We provided them $600,000 through our Research, Development and Demonstration Grant and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund.

The trial introduced two separate household bins – one to collect glass, and another for food and organic waste. The commingled bin is for remaining recyclables, such as paper, plastics and metals.

This provides a cleaner stream of recyclables, so that recycling facilities can better sort materials without glass contamination. By also improving the recovery of glass, more can be recycled back into glass products or used as glass sand in infrastructure projects such as road surfaces.

The success of the trial has informed the Victorian Government’s introduction of a four-bin waste and recycling system by 2021.

Upgraded infrastructure improves quantity and quality of recycled material

Investment in the right infrastructure is key to producing higher-quality recycled materials that can generate market demand and help lay the foundations for a circular economy in Victoria.

Alongside working with local councils to separate glass, Australian Paper Recovery (APR) have invested in a $2.5 million sorting facility in Melbourne’s west, with the support of a $475,000 grant .

The facility is now capable of processing almost 39,000 tonnes of mixed recycled paper every year – which saves around 663,000 trees.

APR have installed equipment that improves their capability to produce higher quality and more valuable outputs. This is achieved by sorting the paper by specific grades, such as cardboard, newsprint and mixed paper.

The high-quality graded paper is then sold to local companies such as paper mills and paper manufacturers to be turned into newsprint and packaging.

Opportunity to recycle more than paper

APR are looking to branch out to other waste streams in addition to paper.

“When designing the facility, we saw an opportunity to diversify to process other materials such as plastics and metals. We wanted to be part of the bigger picture solution, doing quality reprocessing of materials to a standard accepted by markets,” said Mr Darren Thorpe, Managing Director.

Transitioning Victoria towards a circular economy

Improving the separation of recycling at home and upgrading local facilities, like APR, are supporting Victoria’s journey to a circular economy. The aim is to minimise waste and make the most of the resources we have.

This is just the beginning.

The Victorian Government has recently launched Recycling Victoria, a new 10-year plan that will invest more than $300 million to continue to transform our recycling sector.

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