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How recycling industry changes affect you

The recycling industry is changing rapidly and we need to improve our behaviours to ensure we meet new contamination standards.

What is the issue?

China’s National Sword Policy, implemented on 1 January 2018, sets much stricter rules about contaminated waste. This has severely disrupted recycling markets around the world.

The policy most directly impacts kerbside recycling services. Because Victoria exports a portion of kerbside recycling to China to help with their feedstock needs, these new restrictions are impacting on our processors. Our local recycling processing facility is now charging Council for contamination in recycling bins.

Processors are working with councils to address these issues, and higher waste management charges are necessary to ensure we maintain a quality service.

Please note: food and garden waste recycling costs will not change this financial year.

What can you do to help?

It is more critical than ever for you to correctly sort your kerbside recycling. You should also:

  • avoid unnecessary packaging by shopping smart
  • avoid single-use plastics by opting for reusable drink bottles and shopping bags, and refusing plastic cutlery.
  • don't put recycling in plastic bags.
  • know what you can and can’t recycle. Visit Rubbish or recyclable? Our A-Z guide
  • buy Australian recycled products such as office paper
  • check our website to find out what goes in your bins

What are we doing to help?

We’re working with contractors to ensure that recycling services pricing reflect current market conditions. We’ve worked hard to minimise costs, but new prices are necessary to ensure long-term industry sustainability. We’re also taking steps to ensure you know what you can and can’t recycle.

Recycling myths and facts

There’s currently a lot of misinformation about recycling. The following myth-busting facts may surprise you:



China has banned recyclables

China still accepts recyclables if they’re separated and have minimal levels of non-recyclable material (contamination).

All our recycling goes to China

Only a small portion of Victoria’s kerbside recycling goes to China. The rest is processed in Australia and other countries.

All recycling goes to landfill

Recyclables are being transformed into a range of products, including road base, and recycled office and toilet paper.

We can’t meet China’s new standards

Victorian recycling processors have responded by improving how they sort plastics, paper and cardboard. They’ve also invested in technology to ensure high-standard products.


Recycling benefits

Recycling household waste and using products made from recycled materials has a range of benefits, including:

  • preserving natural resources
  • reducing pollution generated to extract, refine and process raw materials
  • decreasing the amount of waste and materials sent to landfill
  • innovation and jobs in the recycling industry.


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