City of Yarra: Standardising bin lids colours for offices

In 2011, Council organised a waste audit of 60 commercial properties. The results of that audit indicated that there was a resource loss of 28 per cent and 11 per cent contamination rate, in excess of the rates seen in domestic households.

These figures indicated a lack of proper source separation and high loss of recyclables in commercial areas. With funding from the Metro Fund and support from the Engineering Operations Group of Council, it was decided to target two commercial shopping strips in Richmond. The aim was to determine clearly defined habits of traders, to reduce resource loss, address the high rate of contamination and improve recycling rates.

To achieve improved behavioural change in improved recycling rates and reduced waste, the following steps were trialled:

  • Face to face engagement and information provision with traders on best practice waste and recycling practices
  • Change the waste bin lids from green to red to comply with Australian Bin Standards (ASO4123.7)
  • Measure the effectiveness of the program with a series of audits.

The program highlighted a number of outstanding issues, such as:

  • a need for extra cardboard recycling
  • a different collection approach may be needed for cafes and restaurants because of the amount of food waste
  • despite an increase in recyclables retrieved, there was still significant ‘resource loss’ as recyclables were found in garbage
  • despite the education campaign and placement of internal infrastructure (collapsible red and yellow waste and recycle boxes), contamination rates in recycling remained roughly the same overall because of the lack of commitment to proper source separation from users.

It was difficult to understand why some properties despite receiving educative information and face to face education did not always indicate overall improvement in subsequent audits of some of those businesses. When these premises were revisited, their response was to blame ‘casual staff’, deny any responsibility or blame ‘passers-by’ for the contamination of their bins.

In conclusion many factors need to be taken into account and other actions implemented if the program is to continue in other commercial areas. This pilot program showed an overall reduction of 1.85 per cent in the amount of waste collected. It also showed an increase in the amount of recyclables collected of 3.34 per cent.

For more information about this project please contact the Waste Education Officer at the City of Yarra on (03) 9205 5555. Information is also available in the documents below.

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

Project resources:

  • Bin Lid Standardisation Pilot MF R2 Final Report - Yarra Report 3.1 MB

    This final report outlines the outcomes, findings, project highlights and recommendations for the Yarra City Council Metro Fund Round 2 'Bin Lid Standardisation Pilot' project. The project aimed to reduce waste, increase recycling, reduce contamination rates, educate and involve Traders in correct waste separation at the source and installation of new bins to meet Australian Standards.

  • Metro Fund: Bin Lid Standardisation Project Case Study 1.5 MB

    This case study examines how bin lid standardisation in the City of Yarra improved waste separation.

Last updated: 20/05/2020