City of Yarra: Improving resource recovery in multi-unit dwellings

Multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) comprise about 25% of Yarra’s residential properties and are rapidly growing in number. Audit results from a 2011 report that resource recovery in MUDs fall short of single dwellings and contamination rates are double, with bagged recyclables featuring as the main contaminant.

The purpose of this project was to reduce contamination in recycling bins at MUDs by targeting recycling in plastic bags, and to reduce resource loss in the waste stream.

The project identified small, medium and large MUDs across the municipality to improve their recycling. Audits of recycling and waste streams were conducted at these MUDs to establish baseline data for the project and to identify specific issues to target through education and engagement.
On completion of the audits, the ratio of recycling bins to waste bins at each MUD was brought in line with industry practice and council guidelines. Stickers were placed on bins and signage was installed in bin rooms.

An educational package for residents was developed consisting of:

  • a letter to residents
  • information on recycling correctly
  • a ‘no plastic bags’ sticker 
  • yellow corflute recycling kitchen boxes.

Body corporates and real estate agents were contacted and provided with project collateral for distribution to residents. Council engaged with 500 households one-on-one by visiting residential properties to discuss recycling issues and to offer residents a kitchen recycling box to make recycling easier.
A second engagement with residents was made where possible to gather feedback on their knowledge and behaviour towards recycling. Signage was renewed or added and visual audits were completed several times for each MUD with a full audit completed at the end of the project.

Key results achieved through this project include:

  • a reduction in resource loss from 18% to 13.8% in MUDs with shared 660L bins
  • a decrease in recycling bin contamination from 14.8% to 13.7% in MUDs with shared 660L bins.

In MUDs with only 240L bins:

  • Plastic bags full of recycling reduced significantly from 13.6% to 1.5%
  • Contamination was cut from 18.4% to 8.8%
  • Resource loss was reduced from 14.3% to 12%.

For more information about this project contact the Coordinator Waste Minimisation and Urban Agriculture at the City of Yarra on (03) 9205 5555.

Project resources:

  • Steel cans poster - Yarra Promotional item 1.6 MB

    This poster was developed by Yarra City Council for the Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The poster highlights steel can recycling and was designed by local students to improve community engagement with the project.

  • Glass recycling poster - Yarra Promotional item 1.5 MB

    This poster was developed by Yarra City Council for the Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The poster highlights glass recycling and was designed by local students to improve community engagement with the project.

  • Mobile phone poster - Yarra Promotional item 1.6 MB

    This poster was developed by Yarra City Council for the Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The poster highlights mobile phone recycling and was designed by local students to improve community engagement with the project.

  • Plastic containers poster - Yarra Promotional item 1.2 MB

    This poster was developed by Yarra City Council for the Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The poster highlights plastic container recycling and was designed by local students to improve community engagement with the project.

  • Aluminium cans poster - Yarra Promotional item 2 MB

    This poster was developed by Yarra City Council for the Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The poster highlights aluminium cans and was designed by local students to improve community engagement with the project

  • Improving Resource Recovery in MUDs MF R2 Final Report - Yarra Report 2.1 MB

    This final report outlines the outcomes, findings, project highlights and recommendations for the Yarra City Council Metro Fund Round 2 'Improving Resource Recovery in Multi-Unit Dwellings' project. The project aimed to change the resource recovery behaviour of residents in a group of targeted Multi Unit Dwellings (MUDs) and reduce contamination in recycling bins.

Last updated: 16/03/2016