We are facing a waste crisis. Tens of thousands of tonnes of recyclables are being dumped into landfill, and our waterways and wildlife are choking on plastics.
We are all doing our bit for the environment by reducing our waste and sorting our recycling into the right bins. But the Victorian Labor Government is letting us down. Their lack of action and weak waste policies have created the waste crisis we're in.
Instead of fixing the crisis, the Andrews Government is supporting corporate proposals for toxic waste incinerators to burn waste for energy, which will create more hazardous waste and climate pollution.
The Greens in Victoria have been driving real solutions. We achieved a ban on single-use plastic bags and a refund on bottles and cans. We also secured a Parliamentary inquiry into the waste and recycling crisis – which recommended many of the other solutions we’ve been pushing for.
We can create a world-class waste and recycling system right here in Victoria that protects the environment and creates jobs.
Help us create a recycling revolution
Stop toxic waste incinerators
Labor has announced a plan to burn 85% of Victoria's waste in incinerators, which will pump poisonous air into our communities and create climate pollution.
1. Create a world-class Victorian recycling industry
For years, waste companies have been shipping much of our recycling overseas. When China and other countries put a ban on importing our contaminated recycling, corporations began to stockpile it or dump it in landfill.
Our waste system in Victoria is in crisis thanks to the Labor and Liberal parties, who have been asleep at the wheel for years. They haven’t invested in creating a proper recycling industry here in Victoria.
With modest government investment, we can sort and process all our recycling here in Victoria. This will create jobs and kick start a ‘circular’ economy, where nothing is wasted.
We can clean up our recycling by introducing separate bins for glass. Currently glass jars in our recycling bin often break, and the shards end up embedded in our paper and plastics, making proper separation and thus recycling impossible. Providing a separate household bin for glass will help reduce recycling going to landfill and provide more recycled glass to industry to turn into new bottles and jars.
We can support growth of compost and recycling factories, creating long-term jobs, by helping fund the roll out of food scrap composting services to homes and businesses, and creating local markets for recycled materials.
A crucial way to ensure recycled materials can be used locally, and are no longer landfilled or stockpiled, is by requiring government infrastructure projects, like roads, footpaths, park benches and playgrounds, be made from recycled materials.
Now is the time to transform our recycling industry with these realistic and affordable solutions.
2. Ban unnecessary single-use plastics
In Victoria we value our clean beaches and precious wildlife. However, this is placed at risk by ever increasing levels of plastic pollution.
- At least 8 million tonnes of plastics end up in the ocean each year (the equivalent to dumping the contents of a garbage truck each minute).
- The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is almost the same size as Queensland.
- Every thirty seconds an ocean animal is killed by plastic pollution.
- By 2050 there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish if we continue on our current path.
These are horrifying facts. The best way to reduce plastic waste is to not create it in the first place. Across the globe, communities are joining the movement to break free from plastic.
Hundreds of cities, states and countries have now banned plastic bags. The European Union has banned single-use plastic cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, cotton buds, balloon sticks and polystyrene take away containers and cups. Here in Australia, South Australia and Queensland are leading the way announcing a similar bans.
This will not only help protect our environment and wildlife, it will reduce use of our limited resources and reduce waste going to landfill.
After years of campaigning by the Greens, together with the plastic free movement, we achieved a ban on single-use plastic bags here in Victoria. But we can’t stop there. We must phase out all unnecessary single-use plastics and all polystyrene, and replace them with reusable solutions to reduce waste and protect our marine life.
3. Introduce a refund on bottles and cans
UPDATE: Thanks to Greens and community campaigning, the Victorian government has announced that Victoria will get a 'cash-for-cans' scheme in 2023. We'll keep pushing to make it happen sooner! Find out more.
Plastic bottles, cartons and cans pollute our creeks, rivers and seas, and choking our marine life. By introducing a 10c refund on these items, we can create an incentive for people to recycle their rubbish.
South Australia has had it for years, and now almost every other state is jumping on board a 10c refund system. That is, except Victoria!
The evidence shows these refunds significantly reduce litter and increase recycling. The NSW scheme has also collected over $440,000 for community groups. Victoria is now the only state in Australia without plans for a refund system.
The Greens have introduced laws in Victoria for a refund system three times - but each time the Labor and Liberal parties have voted it down.
The Greens will keep fighting for this important change.
4. A separate bin for our compost!
Today, food scraps and garden waste make up about 40 - 47 percent of what ends up in our rubbish bins. This organic material fills up our landfills and generate significant methane, a powerful climate pollutant, as they decompose inside the waste pile.
By allowing food scraps in our household green waste bins, we can turn food waste into useful compost on a large scale. This compost can be used to replenish soils on farms, and in parks and gardens.
In the absence of leadership from the Victorian Labor Government, in recent years over 20 local councils across Victoria have taken the lead on introducing food scrap composting services into green bins.
This is one of the easiest, and single most effective things we could do to dramatically reduce waste, as well as reduce climate pollution. The Labor Government should fund the roll-out of food composting services across all of Victoria, creating long-term jobs in the composting industry.
5. Stop dirty, toxic waste incinerators
There are many clean, green solutions to our waste crisis. Burning our rubbish in waste incinerators is not one of them.
Waste incinerators burn our waste, mostly plastics and organics, at extremely high temperatures to generate a small about of energy. The plastics, made from crude oil, are the most flammable part. They are essentially oil-fired power stations that create climate pollution. They have no place in our renewable energy future.
They also generate tens of thousands of tons of hazardous waste annually, which contains carcinogenic and mutagenic furans and dioxins. In recent times, we've all seen the terrible mismanagement of hazardous waste in Victoria with factory fires and massive illegal dumps. We need to stop creating hazardous waste in the first place and protect our communities from this harmful air pollution.
There are now five waste incinerator proposals to burn all our household waste and some commercial waste in Victoria. The corporations proposing them want to lock councils into 20-30 year contracts to burn their waste. That means they threaten to lock us into waste production, not reduction, stifling the growth of our recycling industry.
The Victorian Labor Government has given the green light to waste incineration in Victoria, by not even requiring these large-scale projects go through a proper environmental assessment process. This is contrary to practices across the world, including in NSW where a recent incinerator proposal was rejected on the grounds of health risks by an independent inquiry.
Here in Victoria its becoming a free-for-all with industry scrambling to set them up and make big bucks off the Labor Government’s failure to act on waste for years. Without intervention now, incinerators will become a source of significant environmental problems into the future.
> DOWNLOAD THE INCINERATOR FACTSHEET.
Victorians have the right to clean air, fresh water and a healthy environment. Our waste system is broken – but we can fix it.
Without strong action the waste crisis in Victoria will only deepen.
Rather than burning or dumping our rubbish, the Greens have a plan to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost our waste, and create jobs while we do it.
We have tried and true, affordable solutions to reducing waste and plastic pollution and increasing recycling, it’s time the Victorian Labor Government act and get them done.