Victoria should build a world-class recycling industry that protects our water, wildlife and air for everyone.
We are facing a waste crisis where 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, diligently sorting our recycling into the right bins. But the Victorian Labor Government is letting us down. They've been asleep at the wheel for the last five years. Their lack of action and weak waste policies have created the recycling crisis we’re in.
The Greens in Victoria have been pressuring the government to fix the mess, proposing real solutions. We worked in Parliament to secure an inquiry into the waste and recycling crisis. We achieved a single-use plastic bag ban in Victoria, introduced legislation on a refund on bottles and cans, and pushed for investment in our local recycling industry.
It’s time for a recycling revolution. We can create a waste system right here in Victoria that protects our environment and creates jobs.
Take action to solve the recycling crisis
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 require infrastructure projects, like roads, to include ‘recycled materials’ - creating a better market for recycled products.
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 impossible. Providing a separate kerbside bin for glass will help solve this problem.
Now is the time to transform our recycling industry with these realistic and affordable policies.
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 countries have now banned plastic bags. The European Union has banned single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks and polystyrene take away containers and cups. Here in Australia, South Australia is leading the way announcing a similar ban.
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 here. We must phase out all unnecessary single-use plastics, like cutlery and polystyrene, to reduce waste and protect our marine life.
3. Introduce a refund on bottles and cans
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 percent of what ends up in our rubbish bins. Food scraps fill up our landfills and generate significant methane, a powerful climate pollutant, as they decompose in the waste pile.
By giving households a separate green waste bin for both compost and garden waste, we can turn scraps into useful compost on a large scale.
In the absence of leadership from the Victorian Labor Government, in recent years about 24 local councils across Victoria have taken the lead on introducing food and garden organic green bins.
This is one of the easiest and single most effective and affordable things we could do to move towards zero waste, and the Labor Government should fund the roll-out of these bins across all of Victoria.
5. Stop dirty, toxic waste incinerators
There are many clean, green solutions to our waste crisis. Burning our rubbish in waste incinerators are 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 can create more climate pollution than coal fired power stations and are more than ten times the cost of renewable energy.
They also generate tens of thousands of tons of hazardous waste annually, which contains carcinogenic and mutagenic furans and dioxins. Victoria’s only large-scale hazardous waste landfill is filling fast and a new one will be needed in coming years to cope with all the waste associated with incinerators, if they go ahead. Where are they going to dispose of this toxic waste, and which community will be dumped on?
Corporate proponents of ‘waste to energy’ claim it is that latest clean technology, a zero net emissions alternative to landfill that generates clean energy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are currently five waste incinerator proposals to burn all our municipal waste and some commercial waste in Victoria.
The corporations proposing them want to lock councils into 25 year contracts to burn their waste, creating an incentive to keep creating more and more waste, and recycle less and less. Without intervention now, incinerators threaten to lock us into creating more waste, and become a source of significant environmental problems into the future.
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.
> 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.