Update on Victoria's recycling industry

The recycling industry in Australia is facing challenges as it adapts to changes in the market.

The ‘National Sword Policy’ implemented by China’s General Administration of Customs on 1 January 2018 aims to improve recovery and reuse of domestic solid waste while restricting the import of contaminated paper, cardboard and plastics. This policy is not a ban, it is a change in contamination requirements of acceptable material.

While most of Victoria’s kerbside recyclable material is processed in Australia, a significant portion was exported to China.

The policy has severely disrupted recycling markets worldwide, with significant impacts on Victoria.

Recycling processors have been working with councils to reset contractual arrangements to better reflect current market conditions.


In recent years, China has purchased recyclable material recovered in Victoria (and across the globe) to meet their need for feedstock for manufacturing.


Yes! It is now more critical than ever to correctly sort your recycling for kerbside collection. Find out what you can and cannot recycle.

Victorians can also try to minimise the amount of waste they produce - shop smart and avoid unnecessary packaging. Using reusable drink bottles and coffee cups are a great way to start. Find more ideas at our reduce your waste page.


Our contractors continue to collect and process your recycling and we are engaging with them as they aim to meet changed requirements and find new markets for their material.

We are working hard alongside our contractors and the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group to minimise the impact of this policy of our residents, and our environment.

China's restrictions are providing a challenge but also an opportunity for us to re-evaluate our waste practices in Australia and ensure the industry is sustainable into the future.


We have resumed sending residents’ kerbside recycling to the processor from Monday 29 April 2019, following SKM's Hallam transfer station’s re-opening after addressing stockpiling issues at this site and its other processing sites which caused the processor to cease accepting materials. View our news item.

Shifts in global recycling markets, triggered by China’s new trade measures, mean that the value of recycled products has significantly reduced. Previously, the price of recycled material has allowed council’s to offset the cost of collecting and processing kerbside waste.

To ensure continuity of kerbside recycling collection and processing, the Garbage charge is increasing. While unfortunate, this increase is necessary to ensure your household recyclables continue to be processed into new materials.

We have minimised this increase, which have been brought about by changed market conditions. More information on your waste and recycling charges.

There are four ways you can help:

Prevent waste from the start. Purchase products with reduced packaging, avoid disposable single use items and choose reusable. Learn more about how to reduce your waste.
Continue to recycle as normal. We are committed to continuing to provide kerbside recycling collection services.
Know what you can and can’t recycle. If in doubt, check our recycling page.
Buy Australian recycled-content products. Recycled office paper, paper towel and toilet paper are easy ways to start. Find more recycled-content products for your home and business at Planet Ark’s Recycled Products Directory


We are committed to best practice waste management – reducing the amount of waste generated, increasing recovery of recyclable materials, and reducing contamination.

China’s restrictions provide an opportunity for Victorians to review our waste practices, generate innovation and transition to a cleaner economy.

We are working with our contractors, all levels of government and the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group to minimise the impacts of the restrictions and to drive best practice waste management.