City of Melbourne: Improving recycling in high rise buildings

In 2012, the City of Melbourne received funding from the Metro Fund to undertake a large scale project to improve recycling systems in residential apartment buildings. The aim of the project was to improve the amount and quality of recycling collected from high rise buildings in the City of Melbourne.

A total of 101 buildings with more than 20,500 apartments participated in the project. This represents almost 40 per cent of the total number of dwellings in the municipality (53,412 in 2010). The project had two phases: a pilot and roll-out across the municipality.

Typical recycling system improvements included new recycling bins, more collections per week, holes cut into the lid of recycling bins to discourage plastic bagged recycling, signs and educational materials and in-apartment crates for residents to use.
Key improvements made by buildings included:

  • two buildings that previously had no recycling or cardboard service and five buildings that previously had no cardboard services introduced recyling for these
  • twelve buildings that were paying for part or all of their waste and recycling service from a commercial waste provider were able to change some or all of their service to the City of Melbourne-provided ratepayer service
  • many buildings added additional collection days or bins for commingled recycling (29 buildings) and/or cardboard recycling (15 buildings)
  • many buildings undertook actions to reduce the incidence of plastic bagged recycling, such as bins for plastic bags next to the recycling bins (60 buildings), holes cut into the recycling bin lids (32 buildings) and providing crates for individual apartments (50 buildings)
  • charity bins were installed in 24 buildings and 32 buildings installed a mobile phone recycling box.

The project was evaluated through observations made at the initial and follow-up site visits of all participating buildings and through compositional audits of a sample of garbage and recycling at 22 buildings in the roll-out phase.

The key results in the roll-out phase were:

  • recycling rate, the volume of recycling and cardboard bins collected as a proportion of all bins collected each week, increased from 32.1 to 34.8 per cent, an average increase of 2.7 percentage points across the participating buildings
  • the average contamination (amount of incorrect material) in audited recycling bins decreased from 25 to 15 per cent. This was primarily due to changed behaviour with people placing recyclable materials in the correct bin.

See the City of Melbourne's Youtube video about this project.

For more information contact the Recycling Project Officer at the City of Melbourne on (03) 9658 9658.

For more information about the Metro Fund contact or tel: 8698 9800.

Project resources:

  • High Rise MF R1 Final Report - Melbourne Report 1.4 MB

    This final report outlines the key issues, project objectives, results and recommendations for the Melbourne City Council 'High Rise Recycling' project. This Metro Fund Round 1 project targeted recycling and recycling bin contamination in high rise buildings.

Last updated: 20/05/2020