Circular Economy Innovation Fund – Round 1: Information bulletin

Last updated: 13 September 2022
Prior to 1 July 2022, this fund was named the Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund

This page will be updated regularly based on questions we receive.

About the information sessions

We held information sessions to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.

About Applications

Is there a definition for "food waste"?

Food waste includes any food or drink lost from any part of the food supply chain. It includes edible food – food that could be eaten but is thrown away instead, and inedible food – the bits that cannot be eaten (bones, coffee grounds) or are sometimes undesirable (skins and peels).

Can funding be sought to set up a process that will be subsequently used towards establishing a circular economy?

If your project meets the merit and evaluation criteria and is aligned to the program objectives then funding could be sought. Please review the program’s guidelines.

Can you provide examples of systemic barriers in the food sector or other material sectors?

A range of barriers to the development of a circular economy in Australia have been identified, including:

  • design of products and materials
  • business organisational context and culture
  • industry or supply chain issues
  • regulatory framework
  • economic viability.

These barriers may be faced in the food sector or other sectors. The design of products and materials, industry or supply chain issues, and some aspects of economic viability can be systemic barriers as they relate to multiple organisations or components of the system rather than an individual part. The design of materials and products has a significant impact on waste prevention and is critical to enabling circularity outcomes further down supply chains.

Practical and logistical considerations throughout the supply chain are associated with barriers to transforming to a circular economy – some supply chains are not well connected, communication pathways may be lacking, and specific material and logistical barriers need a collaborative effort to solve. Changes to business models can enable supply chain solutions and lead to greater economic viability. Economic viability can also be impacted by actual or perceived consumer demand relating to factors such as quality and durability, price differential, and distrust of product credentials.

In your application, you are asked how your project addresses one or more systemic barriers, including but not limited to those outlined above. We recommend that you use your knowledge of your industry sector and supply chains, and the challenges you and your project partners are facing to better understand systemic barriers, and then identify how your project can address these.

Can I submit multiple applications for different projects?

Yes, eligible organisations can submit multiple applications for different projects.

Can a single funding application include funding for multiple projects?

No, a funding application can only include funding for one project. However, the project can include multiple elements.

Can I apply for multiple grants?

You can apply for multiple grants if they are for different projects. Please note eligible applications will be assessed using a contested process against the merit criteria in the fund guidelines.

You cannot apply for funding for the same project in more than one of Sustainability Victoria’s funding programs.

Each funding program has different objectives, eligibility requirements and assessment criteria and your application should be specific to the funding program you are applying for. If you have submitted an application to another Sustainability Victoria funding program and now find that this program is more relevant and suitable, you can withdraw your other application by emailing us at:

Can you explain the delay between when applications are submitted and when projects can commence?

Following the application closing date, applications will be reviewed and assessed. Recommendations will be made to the successful applications as part of the approval process. Once approved, successful applicants will be contacted and funding agreements will be established. The project start date is dependent upon the time required for each of these steps to be undertaken. Whilst we endeavour to do this as quickly as possible, we ask for your patience as we work through the process.

Who will be on the assessment panel for the applications?

The panel will be a range of people from within Sustainability Victoria and we may also call on experts to provide us advice through the assessment process. Those panel members and experts will all be agreed on and appointed before the application closing date.

Who owns the intellectual property created out of the project?

In Sustainability Victoria’s grant funding agreements (both the short form for grants up to $50,000 and the long form for grants over $50,000), you (the grant recipient) will retain ownership of your IP.

If you are developing that IP or creating any new IP as part of the funded project, then the new IP that you create or develop is called “Project Intellectual Property”. Under the funding agreements, SV gets a (non-exclusive) licence to use this Project Intellectual Property for any purpose consistent with its general objectives. SV’s general objectives and its statutory functions are set out in the Sustainability Victoria Act 2005. It is not a general objective of SV to commercialise IP (whether our IP or yours) or to grant third parties the right to commercialise others’ IP. SV respects the intellectual property rights of owners and would not knowingly or intentionally do anything to infringe or undermine those rights. As a government entity, SV is required to act reasonably, honestly and ethically at all times and in the public interest.

Note that this is not intended to constitute legal advice to you. Should you have any particular concerns about the IP or other clauses or your rights under the funding agreement, you should consider obtaining independent legal advice.

Could you explain the requirement for Recycling Victoria (RV) Innovation Fund projects to share the project findings with a broader Victorian audience?

The RV Innovation Fund is delivered as part of the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC). One of CEBIC’s core functions is to lead and share research, market intelligence and best-practice insights. The requirement to share project findings with a broader Victorian audience is intended to enable the outcomes of the funded projects to be disseminated through CEBIC.

Applicants must agree to share their findings to be eligible for funding. The application form asks applicants to specify how they will share their findings.

About SV support

Can Sustainability Victoria review a draft of my grant application?

No. As this is a competitive process, we cannot review a draft or provide feedback on the potential merit of a project.

We encourage applicants to:

  • consider and address how the project meets the eligibility criteria
  • describe how the project addresses the merit criteria outlined in the fund guidelines and application form.

Can we have a face-to-face session with SV to step through our project or application?

You can book a time for a face-to-face chat with a member of the team to discuss your business or initiative, but unfortunately the team cannot discuss the available funds or your eligibility. You can book a one-to-one meeting in the Contact Us section of our website.

How will Sustainability Victoria support the business once the grant is approved?

Once a grant is approved, we will be working with you across the duration of the agreement period. We will be helping to share and promote outcomes so that we can promote the circular economy and celebrate the wins.

About Applicants

Are international partners able to apply for funding?

The lead applicant must have an Australian Business Number to be eligible for funding.

Can the lead applicant be a not-for-profit organisation?

The not-for-profit organisation would have to be a charity to be eligible as a lead applicant. Other not-for-profit organisations can participate as project partners.

Would a registered non-distributing co-operative that runs as a business be eligible as a lead applicant?

Your organisation may fall within one of two categories defined in the Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund guidelines:

  • Individual Business: A commercial enterprise seeking to generate profit through its activities, including Social Enterprises.
  • Other Not-for-profit Organisation: An organisation that provides services to the community and does not seek to generate profit through its activities (either direct or indirect).

If your organisation fits the definition of Individual Business, and you meet the other eligibility criteria, you would be eligible as a lead applicant. Co-operative is one of the types of legal entity allowed on the application form.

If your organisation fits the definition of Other Not-for-profit Organisation, you would be able to be a project partner but not a lead applicant.

If your organisation does not fit either definition, please review the definitions within the funding guidelines to explore whether there is another type of organisation that is suitable.

Are Aboriginal people and Torres Straight Islanders encouraged to apply?

Yes, we encourage applications from Aboriginal owned businesses and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. To confirm eligibility as a lead applicant or project partner, please refer to section 3 of the guidelines.

One of our potential partners is not quite ready for the first round. If we plan for a second-round application, can we proceed in confidence that there will still be funds available and that a second round goes ahead?

We are intending to have multiple funding rounds over the funding period. We encourage you to prepare and develop your project to apply for future rounds. However, we do not have the details of the timing and specifications for those rounds. The program’s merit criteria, eligibility scope and budget allocation may vary from round to round.

Will Stream 2 of the Innovation Fund support a start-up or an early-stage small business? If not, are there other funds that support start-ups pursuing circular economy projects?

Lead applicants for the RV Innovation Fund must have been operating for at least two years. There is no requirement for length of operation for project partners. A start-up or an early-stage small business could be part of a funding application if they were part of a collaborative partnership with an eligible lead applicant.

Under Stream 1 Identification Grants of the Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund, there is a provision for start-ups operating less than 2 years to provide a company guarantee from an entity (Related Entity or Project Partner) that has been operating for more than two years. These applicants can apply for grants of $75,000 only. There are differences between the two funds; we encourage you to consider how your project meets the eligibility and merit criteria outlined in the fund guidelines and application form when considering which fund may be suitable.

Will the project be eligible if the lead applicant has operated for less than two years but the project partner has operated for more than 2 years?

No, lead applicants for the RV Innovation Fund must have been operating for at least two years. There is no requirement for length of operation for project partners.

My organisation will reach two years of operation slightly after the application closing date. Can I still apply?

No, unfortunately you need to have been operating for at least two years by the application closing date.

Can a research institute lead the project? Would this have lead partner implications if the research institute is a consultant on the project?

Yes, a research institute can lead the project. For guidance on the specific arrangements of lead applicants and project partners and on co-contribution requirements, please review the fund guidelines. If you need further clarification, please contact .

As a government authority, we have a project where we are partnering with a local government. Would this be eligible?

No, lead applicants for the RV Innovation Fund must be either a business, industry group, research institution or charity. Unfortunately, a project involving only two government partners would not be eligible.

Can a social enterprise or not-for-profit that is a legal subsidiary of the lead applicant and making similar products for social purposes be considered "a collaboration/partnership" or would the lead applicant be better off applying as an individual for the RV Business Support Fund?

If the social enterprise or not-for-profit is a separate legal entity from the lead applicant, you could be considered a collaborative partnership.

If your project does not benefit from a partnership arrangement, then it would be more appropriate for the RV Business Support Fund.

About projects

What are the key differences between the type of projects for Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund and Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund?

Both of these funding programs were established through the Recycling Victoria policy to transform how our economy uses materials. Some of the key differences are:


Business Support Fund: Individual applicants and collaborative partnerships
Innovation Fund:Collaborative partnerships

Focus on material, product or sector

Business Support Fund: Does not have a specific focus
Innovation Fund: Round 1 of Stream 1 focuses on projects that target food waste or the food sector, and requires specific outcomes. Stream 2 does not have a specific focus.

Expectation on innovation

Business Support Fund: Focuses on accelerating the adoption, adaptation and uptake of proven circular economy opportunities and approaches.
Innovation Fund: Focuses on projects that develop innovative solutions

See Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund for more details.

What happens if the project outcomes are not achieved?

Successful applicants will enter into a funding agreement with Sustainability Victoria. This agreement will identify the milestones, deliverables and evidence required to demonstrate the achievement of agreed outcomes. If one or more of the agreed requirements are not satisfied by the recipient, this will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine any potential implications for the funding agreement.

If an organisation is working with local producers to recover materials, and reduce and reuse products through distribution, would this be eligible for funding?

It is not possible to confirm whether this is eligible for funding with this limited amount of information. The RV Innovation Fund provides support for collaborative projects, so you would need to establish a collaborative partnership with your local producers as project partners. You would also need to demonstrate how their project meets the eligibility and merit criteria as outlined in the fund guidelines and application form.

Does anaerobic digestion of organic waste fit into this stream?

No, this would be considered waste-to-energy and an established organics solution, and as such is out of scope for this funding. For more information on what will and will not be funded, please review the fund guidelines.

The guidelines say waste-to-energy projects will not be funded. Is that targeted at waste-to-energy infrastructure or does it mean any project that involves waste-to-energy will not be funded?

The exclusion of waste-to-energy projects is targeted at waste-to-energy infrastructure, whether small-, medium- or large-scale. The guidelines state the funding will not be provided for projects that focus on waste-to-energy proposals. That is, the core focus must not be waste to energy. If there is a project that has a small component of waste-to-energy, it may be eligible, but the project must meet the objectives of the fund.

Are biomass waste projects included in Stream 2? If so, if the focus is on high-value products and bioenergy is a side product, will it be eligible?

Stream 2 does not specify the type of material that is addressed, so biomass waste projects could be included.

The guidelines state the funding will not be provided for projects that focus on waste-to-energy proposals. This includes bioenergy. That is, the core focus must not be bioenergy. If the primary focus is creating high-value products from biomass and there is a small amount of material of bioenergy, it may be eligible but the project must meet the objectives of the fund.

Would processing food waste into a retail product (for example, sauce) qualify?

Stream 1 of the RV Innovation Fund must focus on food waste prevention and can include making new products from food waste. Projects must be undertaken as part of a collaborative partnership and we're looking for those that demonstrate innovation in the approach/solution. This project may also be suitable for the RV Business Support Fund. We would recommend checking the guidelines for both funds.

Are crop residues eligible?

Crop residues may be eligible under funding for Stream 2 but not as a food waste project. Please check that your project meets the eligibility and merit criteria as outlined in the application.

Are hydrogen projects eligible?

If the project is primarily focused on reducing energy use or GHG emissions, then it would not be funded. Projects that focus on waste-to-energy or bioenergy are also not able to be funded.

For more information on what will and will not be funded, please review the fund guidelines.

Are food packaging recycling projects eligible for Stream 1?

This depends on the project. If you are just looking at increasing the recycling of food packaging itself or utilising recycled materials in the packaging, then these are not eligible as they are not reducing food that is wasted. If the project is designing new packaging to reduce food waste – something that extends the duration of a product or provides smaller portions and less waste options – then potentially it is eligible as it would lead to waste reduction.

Are projects making circular products and internalising end-of-life recycling (over the longer term), through extended producer responsibility eligible?

We are looking for projects that are seeking to deal with systemic barriers to creating circular economies. If the project will address those objectives then it could be eligible. If the project is entirely focusing on the recycling component, it would not be eligible as projects that focus on waste recovery and recycling are not eligible. Working in a collaborative manner across an entire supply chain, or different types of organisations working together to achieve that, could possibly be eligible.

Can a project that focuses on food innovation be considered for Stream 2 to access a higher grant amount than is available under Stream 1?

Yes, a project focusing on food innovation could be considered under Stream 2 as that stream does not have a requirement for the product, focus area or sector.

Why would a food project apply under the collaborative Innovation Grant, rather than Food Innovation, as it appears to be more attractive financially?

Your application comes down to the individual project and its needs. You may want to apply to Stream 2 if that is your requirement but if you only require a lower amount of funding then Stream 1 may be more appropriate.

What is deemed an "established organics solution" and therefore ineligible to apply for funding?

An established organics solution is one that is already being widely applied within Victoria.

How many projects will be approved for each stream?

This will depend on the quality of the applications received. All applications will be assessed against the eligibility and merit criteria published in the guidelines.

Are you prioritising reduce and reuse activities with this funding?

Yes, the fund objectives include reducing materials to landfill and other waste destinations – that is, waste prevention and avoidance. The objectives also include new circular business models such as innovative business models that we are seeing growing in popularity overseas but which have not been adopted widely in Australia, such as product-as-a-service or sharing. We are excited to see how we can build these innovative approaches into the Victorian economy.

If the project takes place primarily in Victoria, can project partners or consultants be based in other states?

Applicants may be based in Victoria or in another state. We understand many organisations have national operations and that supply chains are both national and international. National or interstate organisations may apply for grants if the project is focused in Victoria and at least 50% of the project activities take place in Victoria.

The lead applicant and all project partners must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN).

As the project must be finished by 2024, can the phases of the project be planned over two or three years?

Projects need to be fully completed by May 2024. They can be phased out throughout that time and can be delivered over a shorter timeframe where required.

When the application funding agreement is created, it will ask for milestone suggestions where phases can be established.

About project partners and collaboration

Can you provide some examples of collaborative partnerships?

Some examples are:

  • an industry group (lead applicant) forms a collaborative partnership with a research organisation, ten of their members (each being a business), a design consultancy (a business) and two local governments
  • a large food manufacturing company (the lead applicant and a business) forms a collaborative partnership with three of their main primary producer suppliers (each being a business) and a research organisation.

Can I be a project partner in more than one project or funding application?

Yes, you can be a project partner in more than one funding application.

Why is the fund only targeting collaborative partnerships and not individual businesses?

Collaboration has been recognised as a fundamental part of the transition to a more circular economy. This was a common theme during consultation undertaken during the development of the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre. The RV Innovation Fund has been designed to support collaboration. The RV Business Support Fund enables individual businesses to apply for funding.

Does the second partnership have to be a not-for-profit or government entity?

No, project partners can be individual businesses, industry groups, research institutions, charities, other not-for-profit organisations, governments or local government organisations.

Do all the collaborators need to be based in Australia?

The collaborators do not need to be based in Australia but the lead applicant and all project partners must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN).

About funding and co-contribution

Given there is $2.9 million over four years, how much will be allocated in round one? Is there a fixed split between the two streams?

There is no pre-determined amount that will be allocated in round one, or a fixed split between the two streams. Applications received across the two streams are assessed based on a competitive and merit process. As such, applications received in each funding round that have strongly addressed the program's criteria are most likely to be allocated funding.

The grant amounts seem high compared to the total of $2.9m over four years. Can you please provide more information?

We are looking for projects and applications that will accelerate Victoria’s transition to a circular economy. We are looking to support some substantial projects that will be transformative in a supply chain or across sectors.

Will you consider funding projects requesting less than the minimum funding specified?

No. In this round of funds disbursement, funding requests must be at the minimum amount specified.

The Fund will be open for up to three rounds or until the funding is fully subscribed or closed at the discretion of Sustainability Victoria. The program’s merit criteria, eligibility scope and budget allocation may vary from round to round.

Will SV fund the cost of a lease to land or premises for the purposes of my project?

No. Please see the sections What will be funded and What will not be funded in the Guidelines.

Will SV fund my staffing costs for those staff working on the project?

For this Fund, staff costs directly related to the project can be included in the total project costs.

  • Costs that are shown to be for new or additional staff, or for existing staff who are dedicated or specific to the project, could be eligible for SV funding.
  • Costs related to existing staff who are not dedicated or specific to the project may be included as part of the in-kind co-contribution (up to 80%).

Research staff time can comprise much of the project cost. If funds are not provided for “existing staff costs”, how is this expected to work for research institutions?

Existing staff costs that can be demonstrated to be directly related to the project can be considered for SV funding. If the costs relate to existing staff who are not dedicated or specific to the project, the costs can be included as part of the in-kind co-contribution (up to 80%).

Can you provide an example of how to calculate the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees?

Example: You have three employees. Their respective work hours per week are: 40 hours, 40 hours, and 20 hours; this is a total of 100 hours.

Assuming a full-time employee works 40 hours per week, your full-time equivalent calculation is 100 hours divided by 40 hours, which equals 2.5 FTE.

If staff are currently working on a casual basis for the organisation, can they be included as staff for this funding?

Please refer to other advice on funding of staff costs. That applies to any staffing costs whether they are casual or otherwise.

If a partner organisation has indicated that they will partly fund the project, can a purchase order be used as evidence or is other evidence of funding required?

If the project partner has agreed to partly fund the project then their financial contribution can be part of the co-contribution amount. In the project application you can check what is required. Successful applicants may need to provide additional evidence.

Can a purchase order be raised before the project start date?

The project activities cannot start before the funding agreement is signed. A purchase order can be raised sooner but it will need to be valid at the point of signing the agreement.

If projects are already being planned, would this be considered applying for retrospective funding? Or can you still apply for funding if the project is in design phase?

The project activities that you are requesting funding for cannot commence before the funding agreement has been signed. For example, you can undertake planning and design, and then apply for funding for implementation, which you can then commence once the funding agreement is in place.

Retrospective funding will not be provided for projects that have been completed prior to signing a funding agreement.

Are there funding programs available for food waste recycling companies that are already operating?

As an individual business you could be eligible as a lead applicant but would need to form a collaborative partnership. For more information on what will and will not be funded, please review the fund guidelines.

You could also review the Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund guidelines to see if your project is eligible for funding through that program.

What are the other funding projects?

There are also other funding programs within the Recycling Victoria policy that have not opened yet. You can read more about those programs by visiting Victorian Government’s Transforming recycling in Victoria page.

Other questions

How is this RV Innovation Fund aligned with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO)?

The RV Innovation Fund requires applicants to engage with project partners in a collaborative partnership, which aligns with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO)’s model of driving change through collaboration. APCO’s priority projects relating to reuse are in line with the RV Innovation Fund objectives and APCO’s working groups on design, systems and education and materials circularity are all working towards similar objectives.