Kerbside recycling update

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Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

While SKM's Laverton North site is now receiving recycling, we’re still waiting on the Coolaroo site (where the City of Whittlesea's recycling is processed) to achieve EPA compliance. We will let you know as soon as the situation changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is happening to my recycling?

The EPA banned SKM Services from receiving any more recycling at its Coolaroo and Laverton North plants due to an issue with the way the recycling is being stored. SKM Services processes the recycling collected from 20 Council areas, including the City of Whittlesea.

Why has this happened?

EPA inspectors visited the sites and observed large stockpiles of recyclable waste materials from kerb-side collections which they believed to be a fire risk. As a result, the EPA stopped SKM Services from receiving any more recycling until this was fixed.

How long will this last?

The State Government and EPA are working with SKM to resolve this issue as soon as possible. We are disappointed that we are one of 20 Councils affected by this issue. The Laverton site has now reopened, however Coolaroo, where the City of Whittlesea's recycling is processed remains closed.

How many people are affected?

SKM receives 50% of Victoria’s recycling and takes materials from 20 Council areas across Melbourne.

Why can’t the recycling just go somewhere else?

Council collects 65 tonnes of recycling from households daily - which equates to 12 truckloads of compacted recycling each day. There are a very limited number of facilities that process recycling. We have thoroughly investigated all options and for a range of reasons such as permit conditions, capacity and fire risk, other companies are not able to take on the extra materials.

Can’t Council just collect and hold the recycling until the plant is open again?

No. The EPA’s licensing rules at our local landfill do not allow this. We do not have anywhere else to store such a large quantity of recyclable materials; any piles would create an unacceptable fire risk.

Will my recycling bin still be collected?

Yes. We will be collecting recycling bins as normal but instead of the materials going to SKM, we have no choice but to divert them to landfill until the plant is operational again.

Can Council do an extra recycling collections instead when it's resolved?

Our contractors have a set number of trucks that are busy each day collecting waste, greenwaste and recycling. There are not extra trucks available to do an extra collection next week. Even if we did have extra trucks, doubling the amount of recycling collected in one week would be more than SKM could process in one week and create a fire hazard again.

Can I put rubbish in my recycling bin if it’s going to landfill anyway?

No. We are hopeful that this issue will be resolved soon so we encourage you to continue separating your rubbish and recycling as normal. We know you work hard to ensure you are recycling right and we would encourage you to continue doing so for the long-term benefit of our environment.

Will Council have to pay the cost of sending it to landfill instead of recycling?

We are working with our collection contractors and SKM on a solution that won’t see Council penalised for something that was beyond our control.

I don’t want my recycling going to landfill, what can I do?

If you have enough space in your bin, you can hold on to your recycling materials at home until the issue is resolved.  We understand many people can’t do this so we will still be collecting and emptying your recycling bins on your normal collection day with the materials going to landfill.

Will I get a refund?

No. The cost of collecting and transporting your rubbish and recycling each week continues to remain the same; the destination of the recycling is the only change in the short term.

Why doesn’t Council have a back-up plan for situations such as this?

There are very few locations in Victoria that accept and process recycling materials. We know recycling is an important issue to our community. All Councils in Victoria are in the same situation so we are working with the State and Federal Governments to come up with more sustainable long-term solutions for processing recycling locally.

Why can’t the City of Whittlesea send their recycling to the Laverton North recycling facility now that it’s re-opened?

To ensure the ongoing compliance of the Laverton North site to EPA requirements, SKM will only be accepting material from Councils that usually deliver to the Laverton North site.