Australia

Vic recycling woes 'disrespectful': group

The steps of parliament in Melbourne resembled a waste dump as activists called for action on Victoria's recycling "crisis".

Dozens of waste warriors have strewn bottles, cans and cardboard across the steps of the Victorian parliament to tell authorities to get serious about the state's recycling "crisis".

Victorian councils have been forced to dispose of tonnes of reusable waste in local landfill since China stopped taking it and several recycling plants have been shut down, activists said on Tuesday.

About 30 activists turned up for the protest, some dressed as bottles and cans and others holding signs as they stood behind their recyclables.

Transform Waste campaign coordinator Anine Cummins said Victorians were "fed up" with the situation, which is "disrespectful" to people who want to do the right thing, only to see their recycling buried.

"Our recycling system has broken down," Ms Cummins said.

"This was not a big shock. China said they were going to stop taking our recycling more than a year ago.

"The state government has done nothing in regards to building a state-wide system we can actually rely on, which is really a failure of government."

Comment is being sought from the Labor government. State parliament earlier this month set up a parliamentary inquiry to examine the issue.

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio has previously said councils needed to negotiate better contracts with recycling collectors.

Transform Waste, an initiative of Friends of the Earth, is calling for long-term solutions, not "band-aid" fixes.

These include a container deposit scheme, a plastic bag ban, a phase-out of single-use plastics and on-shore recycling, the latter of which is supported by the state sustainability fund.

Ms Cummins seemed exasperated Victoria didn't have a container deposit scheme, which gives cash back for bottle recycling, like South Australia, NSW and Queensland.

"Victoria, the 'Sweden of Australia', doesn't have a container deposit scheme," she joked. "It's time to get on with this."

Councils have been sending reusables to landfill since three plants operated by SKM Services Pty Ltd were closed amid fears stockpiles of recyclables posed a fire hazard.

The shutdown left the sector in limbo because SKM was responsible for collecting about half of Victoria's kerbside recycling.

Last week, one of the company's plants at Laverton North was allowed to resume accepting materials, but the other two remain shut.

Councils have asked the state government to set up a container deposit scheme and for more cash to cover costs incurred from the plant shutdowns.

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