Six bold ways we care for our environment every day

25 May 2023

From reusing food waste to keep our parks thriving, to powering our city by renewables, Melbourne is a city that cares about the environment   

You can feel proud that we’re a community of people rallying to make a difference through big and small actions that help to slow the climate crisis and create a better tomorrow. 

Discover how every day is environment day here in Melbourne. 

1. We’re moving to clean energy 

Did you know every light on our streets, every treadmill in our gyms and every barbecue in our parks is powered by renewable energy? 

Thanks to two renewable energy group purchase agreements, we were the first capital city council in Australia to be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy.  

We’re building on this success with a new project, called Power Melbourne

It will establish a network of coordinated neighbourhood-scale batteries to deliver more renewable energy into the grid. 

Power Melbourne is great for the environment, and it’s even better for local households and small businesses who will be able to access affordable renewable electricity. 

Solar panels on Melbourne rooftops
Solar panels on Melbourne rooftops 

2. We’re retrofitting our city’s buildings 

We want to power our municipality by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030, and achieve zero net emissions by 2040. 

More than 60 per cent of emissions in Melbourne come from commercial buildings, so this year we’ll publish a plan to help us accelerate retrofits and reduce their impact. 

To achieve this, we’re working with more than 70 industry stakeholders and experts in the field, and have consulted international best practice to ensure our existing buildings can become zero-carbon-ready by 2040. 

We have also introduced a planning scheme amendment so new developments also help contribute to our sustainability goals. 

3. We’re using recycled material to create protected bike lanes and resurface roads 

In the past three years, we’ve installed more than 17 kilometres of new, protected bike lanes to improve safety for all road users, respond to the growing use of cycling and micro-mobility in Melbourne and reduce traffic congestion and emissions. 

Most of these protected bike lanes are built with recycled materials saving a large quantity of bin glass from landfill. 

We’re also using a sustainable material – GreenPave™ U asphalt – to resurface our roads. It is made of 50 per cent recycled materials including reclaimed asphalt, glass, recycled plastic and the by-products of local steel manufacturing. 

More than 1000 tonnes of recycled asphalt have been laid on roads in North Melbourne, Southbank and South Yarra.  That’s the equivalent of more than 500 tonnes of recycled road and steel by-product, 140,000 recycled glass bottles, and 280,000 recycled plastic bags.  

GreenPave can also be manufactured at a lower temperature, further reducing fuel consumption and our impact on the environment.  

Bike lane on Rathdowne Street
New bike lanes on Rathdowne Street

4. We’re collecting and reusing our household waste 

If food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. 

About 45 per cent of our residential landfill bins are made up of organic waste, which ends up in landfill producing methane gas, odour and contributing to climate change. 

That’s why we launched our food and garden organics waste service in 2021.   

Since launching, we’ve provided 25,000 households in the City of Melbourne with the food and garden organics service, diverting almost 2400 tonnes of organic waste from landfill.    

We’re also proud to be the first city to trial a food and organics collection in high-rise buildings. 

Combined, our food and organics service supports Melbourne’s circular economy by converting fertiliser into high-quality compost that we can use in parks and gardens – improving the health of our city’s green spaces. 

Keep your eye out for new on-site food waste processing in six high-rise apartment buildings in our municipality, as well as our food and organics waste e-bike service that collects food waste from local hospitality and food retail businesses in the city. 

A woman throwing a compostable bag of food waste into a green bin
A resident making the most of our food and organics waste collection service

5. We’re funding private greening projects  

Trees decorate more than 25 per cent of our Melbourne skyline. We’ve planted 47,148 trees since 2012 and aim to reach 40 per cent tree coverage by 2040. 

While we will continue to plant 3000 trees each year, we know we’ll need some help to reach our targets. 

That’s why we’re calling on the private sector to partner with us and increase the number of green roofs, tree plantings and vertical greening on private land. 

Our Urban Forest Fund makes this possible by providing matched financial support to private greening projects that otherwise would not be funded. 

6. We’re making every drop of water count 

Melbourne is home to six stormwater harvesting systems that can hold 30 million litres of captured rainwater. Each year we harvest up to 200 million litres of rainwater for irrigation use.   

Next time you’re walking through our parks and gardens, enjoying the luscious greenery, you can rest assured we care about every drop of water we use to irrigate our city. 

Our world-leading water management infrastructure helps us understand how much water to apply and when by measuring rainfall and monitoring soil moisture levels. 

We also have a team that harvest storm water to irrigate our parks and gardens, and enhance drought resistance. Read more about Mohammad, our city’s irrigation expert

Person looking at soil in garden
Mohammad checking the irrigation levels in one of our gardens

Share this story

You may also like
Guide to waste-free shopping at Queen Victoria Market

Guide to waste-free shopping at Queen Victoria Market

Bring your reusable containers and bags to Queen Victoria Market to check off your whole shopping list, including meat, fish, cheese, antipasti, wine, olive oil, grains, fruit, vegies and even shampoo.  More and more Melburnians are changing the way they do their...

RCYCL is a perfect fit for the planet

RCYCL is a perfect fit for the planet

As fashion designers and doyens frock up and flock to the PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival, one Melbourne business is enabling us to change the way we use, reuse and recycle clothing. What do you do with last season’s taffeta double-bow midi dress...

A wild life: park rangers rescue roos and reptiles

A wild life: park rangers rescue roos and reptiles

A roo on the hop in Carlton. A blue-tongue lizard basking in a laneway. Ducklings in distress. Our park rangers have seen it all and know just what to do. So – before you step in – give the experts a call. Our park rangers do important work – helping visitors, keeping...

Subscribe to win

Sign up to our newsletter and go into the draw to win one of three $100 vouchers to spend at Queen Victoria Market or one of three memberships to Melbourne City Baths.

You have successfully subscribed!