Recycling giant must explain crisis: govt

Victorian councils are scrambling to prevent recyclable waste being dumped in landfill.
Victorian councils are scrambling to prevent recyclable waste being dumped in landfill.

Recycling giant SKM needs to explain itself to Victorians whose recyclable waste is now being diverted to landfill after the contractor was shut down over stockpiling safety concerns, the environment minister says.

Plants operated by SKM, which collects half of the state's kerbside recycling, have been temporarily shut down by the EPA, leaving about 20 councils with no option but to dump the material.

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the contractor needed to say why it was hoarding the material.

"It would be great for SKM to actually explain themselves, I believe media have made many attempts to contact them and they've all been unsuccessful," Ms D'Ambrosio said at parliament on Tuesday.

Attempts by AAP to contact SKM have gone unanswered.

Ms D'Ambrosio said she had not personally heard from SKM but was aware of the company contacting councils to indicate a resumption date.

The materials at the Coolaroo and Laverton sites had been piling up since China stopped accepting foreign waste.

Ms D'Ambrosio said it was time for local councils to negotiate better contracts with the three recycling collectors so contingencies are in place.

Brimbank, Cardinia, Port Phillip, Whittlesea, Hume and Casey are among councils which will collect waste as normal, but will send it to landfill.

Mornington Peninsula says its collections will continue as normal and won't be sent to landfill, as it has capacity to temporarily store recyclable material.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said there was an over-reliance on just a few operators, leaving the state in a difficult situation.

Australian Associated Press