Recycling issue FAQs

Summary

  • Our kerbside recycling contractor SKM has stopped accepting materials until further notice.
  • We will continue to pick up recycling bins, but recyclable materials will be temporarily sent to the landfill.
  • Green waste (including Anglesea food organics) and landfill bin collections are unchanged. 

Detailed information

Read the latest update on the recycling issue

We've answered many of the common questions we've heard from you below. If you can't find the answer to your question in the list, please contact us directly at info@surfcoast.vic.gov.au or on (03) 5261 0600.

What happens now that SKM is declared to be insolvent?

There are many parts to the SKM business and the supply chain for recycling, so we don’t yet understand the full impact of the Supreme Court's decision. We do know that in the short term recyclables will continue to go to landfill while we urgently seek alternative solutions.

Can I still use my recycling bin?

Yes. Even though Council doesn’t currently have a recycling provider, we want the community keep up their recycling habits, so that as we have a solution the recycling will be diverted away from landfill again.

There are no changes to the bin collection schedule but we are asking that you don’t put your recycling  bin out for collection until it is full. This might avoid some recyclables going to landfill if SKM’s operations resume in the near future.

What about my general waste and garden waste bins?

Your other bins will be collected and processed as normal. Garden waste will still be collected and reused. If you are in Anglesea your existing food organics collection will continue as usual.

Why does our recycling need to go to landfill?

Over 30 Victorian councils are affected by SKM’s closure, and the other Victorian recycling facilities do not have the capacity to absorb the extra volume of materials. Councils to the west of Melbourne in particular do not have many alternatives.

How can I keep my recycling out of landfill?

We appreciate the efforts of community members to keep as many items out of landfill as possible.

You can take the following separated items to a nearby transfer station for recycling:

Paper/cardboard:

Separated paper and cardboard – will be recycled by Cleanaway

  • Accepted materials: office paper, newspaper, cardboard packaging, magazines, advertising material (junk mail), egg cartons, books
  • Materials not accepted: any cardboard container designed to hold liquids – e.g. coffee cups, milk or juice cartons, used paper towel (put these items in the general waste bin)

Metals:

All metals are collected together – will be recycled by Sims Metal

  • Accepted materials: all metal items including food cans, aluminium drink cans, metal pots and pans (no lids), aluminium foil (scrunched together in a ball), metal lids (from bottles and jars)
  • Materials not accepted: non-metal items

Glass bottles and jars:

Glass beverage bottles and food jars only – will be collected by Suez

  • Accepted materials: glass beverage bottles, glass food jars only (no lids)
  • Materials not accepted: lids, window glass, pyrex (glass cooking items), light globes, mirrors, drinking glasses

Plastics:

Because there are so many different types/compositions of plastic, plastic is the hardest material to find alternative recycling options for. No options are currently available to recycle any plastic containers that would usually go in the recycle bin.

Note: There is hard plastic collection at Anglesea transfer station only, but this is for larger rigid plastic items. Examples include: wheelie bins, garden pots, milk crates, bread crates, PR poly pipe, bumper bars, truck mud guards, plastic drums, some children’s toys and play equipment. These are recycled by GT Recycling Geelong.

Mixed recyclables:

We don't have the ability to sort mixed materials (that is the missing link with SKM’s materials recovery facility closed), so these are temporarily being sent to landfill.

Domestic quantities of recyclable materials being taken to any of the transfer stations are being charged as normal (up to 0.5 m3 is free of charge). We will make exceptions for residents who present with amounts of separated paper/cardboard, metals and glass in excess of this because they have been storing their material to reduce trips or are bringing material from multiple households.

These items need to remain separated to be accepted.

The most important thing people can do is reduce waste where possible by making good choices when you shop. Really think about where your packaging will end up.

Council will be exploring drop-off options for communities that don’t have a transfer station.

Can I use my own containers to get food from delis and takeaway businesses?

Food safety regulations in Victoria do not prohibit a food business from serving food or drink in a container provided by a customer.

If registered food premises choose to not use customers' containers that is a business decision not a requirement of legislation.

If you run a food premises and want to allow customers to bring their own containers, read our information for businesses serving food in customers' containers

I heard that our recycling had been going to landfill since February

That’s not true. Due to the temporary closure of SKM’s Geelong facility in February, recyclable materials were sent to Anglesea landfill from 21 February to 13 March 2019, when SKM resumed operating.

Will I receive a refund on my waste charge?

Waste disposal to landfill is more expensive than recycling so we cannot offer a discount. Council cannot properly review the waste charge until we know how the service will be delivered in the future.

How much more will it cost to send recyclables to landfill?

Disposing of recyclables to landfill costs over $100 per tonne more than our regular processing, which is about $8k - $9k per week across the shire. About one third of that extra cost comprises a levy paid to the state government.

Why can’t Council store our recyclables and recover them for processing later?

Council explored temporary and medium-term options for storing recyclables early in 2019 in the hope that we could recover the material and process it later. The EPA and planning regulations were onerous and Council doesn’t have a site that would meet these requirements. Council is hopeful that a suitable alternative site is identified in the region.

How long will SKM be closed?

SKM has financial and compliance challenges to overcome before it can resume operations. Council is not in a position to know when these will be resolved or what the outcome will be.

Why have you continued to use SKM after its temporary closure in February?

The five  G21 councils, including Surf Coast, have contracts with SKM until at least 2025. Council currently has no options available in the Geelong region for alternative contractors to process our volumes of co-mingled recyclables.

What has Council done to address the recycling issues since February, when SKM temporarily closed?

Council has worked with its regional partners and councils across the state, advocating for the State Government authorities to have increased focus on the recycling challenge.

We made a submission to the government’s Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management in May. Our submission supported a Container Deposit Scheme, circular economy and product stewardship.

If Council can accept paper/cardboard and metal at the transfer stations, why can't we put only those materials into our kerbside recycling bin and have them recycled?

We don't have the ability to sort materials after collection. We need a facility like SKM to do the sorting.

 This video explains what normally happens to recycling after it's collected.