7 top tips to reduce your waste

UPDATED 23 SEPTEMBER 2019

We are urging Melburnians to follow seven simple steps to avoid creating waste, and help create a cleaner, greener future.

Our city is facing a recycling crisis. Following the collapse of SKM Recycling, we have reached a short-term agreement with Kordamentha to process our household recycling.

Reducing the impact of waste is central to our commitment to take action on climate change, plan for a growing city and provide a safe clean city where our community can thrive.

We are working hard to find a long-term, sustainable solution to the recycling crisis, develop smarter waste management tools for the future, and introduce short-term initiatives that will reduce the volume of waste going to landfill. But innovation can only go so far.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the developed world, we need to get smarter about waste. The days of sending large volumes of waste overseas or to landfill have to end.

Before you buy a product, it’s important to ask yourself if you really need it, or if it will just end up in landfill.

There are so many items we use for only a few minutes that can linger in the environment for thousands of years. The most powerful thing we can do is stop creating so much waste in the first place.

By following these simple steps, you can not only avoid creating waste, but save money, eat more healthily, and support sustainable local businesses.

1. Say no to single-use plastics and packaging
Enjoy your takeaway food and drink in reusable containers and cups, drink tap water instead of bottled drinks, buy unwrapped fresh fruit and vegetables instead of packaged foods, and switch to certified compostable bin-liners.

2. Take your recycling to the Dynon Road recycling centre
Our waste and recycling centre at 437 Dynon Road in West Melbourne is accepting drop off recycling. You can take kerbside recycling items like plastics, cardboard and separated glass to the centre.

3. Compost your food scraps and organic waste
Get a worm farm, composting bin or bokashi composting system. To find neighbourhood composting locations, contact your local communal garden or climate-action group, or try the ShareWaste app.

Did you know you can access discounted worm farms and composting systems through our partnership with Compost Revolution? The products contain 100 per cent recycled materials and are 100 per cent Australian made.

4. Keep recycling and avoid contamination
Continue to separate your recyclables and dispose of your waste mindfully, even during the recycling crisis. This will maintain good habits for the future, and recycling collection will continue as normal.

5. Recycle your e-waste
Deposit your e-waste (anything with a battery or power cable) at one of the collection points we’ve established around the city. To find the locations, visit Waste.

6. Support sustainable businesses
Seek out sustainable retailers and eateries, and spread the word about Earth-conscious startups like Returnr and Unpackaged Eco, which have created smart ways to reduce single-use packaging.

Did you know round two of our small business grants program includes up to $100,000 for businesses with a waste minimisation proposal? Applications are open until Monday 9 September.

7. Share your waste hacks
Talk about the simple things you are doing to reduce your waste with your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. We are stronger when we work together.

As a matter of urgency amid the recycling crisis, Council’s waste collection contractor Citywide is working with experts to investigate the best way to create a specialised recycling facility in Victoria.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said Council is fast-tracking part of its Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy to bring forward investment in infrastructure and new technology.

This work will include exploring international best practice for waste disposal in inner city laneways, such as mini-compactor bins, specialised vehicles, and separate collection of different materials.

‘We want to stop recyclables going to landfill as soon as possible and deliver long-term improvements for our residents and businesses,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘Ultimately we need to work towards the model used by many European countries where recycling streams are collected and processed separately.

‘This is not a process that can be tackled by individual municipalities so we will be working with other councils, the Victorian Government and the community to achieve long-term change.’

Environment portfolio Chair Councillor Cathy Oke said everyone can play their part, including through waste avoidance and reducing contamination of the waste stream.

‘We don’t want people to lose their good recycling habits. We’re hopeful of delivering short and long-term solutions to this crisis as soon as possible,’ Cr Oke said.

‘We need to provide a cleaner product for our recycling industry to return to a more sustainable and stable footing. That means reducing contamination from items like greasy pizza boxes, which don’t belong in the recycling.

‘Ultimately we need to encourage everyone to reduce the amount of waste they’re producing in the first instance.’

Overwhelmingly, residents and businesses tell us they want reduce their environmental impact.

If we all act on this goodwill, we can protect our environment, influence change-makers at all levels of government and industry, and create the brightest future for Melburnians.

To be inspired by a zero-waste living expert, read our interview with Erin Rhoads.

For more information, visit Waste.

Fast facts

  • We collect 30,000 tonnes of residential waste, 11,000 tonnes of recycling, and 6000 mattresses each year.
  • We empty 2000 street and solar compactor bins each day and sweep 312 kilometres of roads each week.
  • We spend $24 million on residential and commercial waste services each year.
  • If Melburnians don’t start consuming less, we will spend $44 million a year on waste collection and disposal by 2030.

Good news

  • Single-use plastic bags will be banned in Victoria this November.
  • Federal and State Governments have endorsed targets for all Australian packaging to be either reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
  • Many major brands have pledged to use Planet Ark’s new Australasian Recycling Label, which helps consumers understand whether a product can be recycled.