Councils in Victoria have been facing a recycling crisis since Visy told collection contractors it would no longer accept their waste from 9 February.
According to the Herald Sun, Visy said it had become “commercially unviable” to accept materials to be recycled, blaming the recent decision by China to ban foreign waste.
Victorian councils may have to stockpile millions of tonnes of waste – or dump it in landfill – since Visy told a bin collector that services 11 councils in Victoria’s west that it would stop accepting council recycling from this month.
Until now, China has been the largest importer of recyclable materials, taking in more than 30 million metric tonnes of waste from all over the world, including from the US, EU, Japan, and Australia.
It announced a ban on 24 categories of solid waste last month, which affects an annual average of 619,000 tonnes of materials in Australia alone.
A council in central Victoria is asking people to cut down on how much paper and plastic they put in their yellow bins, while another council is planning to find a site to stockpile the recycling it collects in the hope the situation changes, according to The Age.
Councils are encouraging consumers to think carefully about purchasing things in recyclable containers, such as plastic bottles.
Some have said the ban presents an opportunity for new professional recycling companies with a large capacity.
South Australian data has shown that an extra 25,000 jobs would be created over five years by recycling and reusing waste rather than dumping or exporting it, according to ABC News.
In the meantime, the Victorian government is being pressured to urgently work with the industry to make sure recyclers can continue to accept waste, and find a way to move towards a circular economy in Australia.