Waste Innovation for a Circular Economy

In Australia, it is estimated that a 5% improvement in material efficiency would represent a $24 billion increase to GDP. In addition, for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled 9.2 jobs would be created, compared to only 2.8 jobs when the same amount of waste is sent to landfill. The adoption of circular strategies to manage natural resources can provide an opportunity to reinvigorate Australia’s manufacturing industry as well as a significant increase to the Australian economy.

Australia must actively transition away from a linear economy to a Circular Economy, which prioritises the collection, recovery and re-use of products. The development of innovative technologies for waste treatment, resource recovery and long-term management of priority wastes can generate new industries and revenue for Australia. Combined with the introduction of National policies and regulations and new business models, these activities will support the transition to a Circular Economy in Australia. However, research and development in Waste Innovation and Circular Economy is largely fragmented, and linkages between within and between industry, government and other stakeholders are required to build critical mass in this area.

Australian and international participants of the CSIRO Cutting Edge Science and Engineering Symposium, Waste Innovation for a Circular Economy, held 27-29 May 2019 in Clayton, Victoria.

This report contains a summary and interpretation of speaker presentations and participant comments, discussions and feedback provided at the Waste Innovation for the Circular Economy the symposium, which has been compiled based on the understanding of the organising committee members. We have done our best to ensure that this report accurately reflects the symposium content. The summary report concludes with findings and recommendations based on the symposium content.

The Symposium participants proposed that a National Coalition of Circular Economy Stakeholders, including the Australian Government and leading researchers, can support the next wave of economic growth enabled by the Circular Economy through:

  1. Coordinating activity of government agencies across all levels of government;
  2. Convening a National Forum in Canberra bringing together representatives from each of the identified stakeholder groups to formalise a National Direction and Strategy for Circular Economy in Australia;
  3. Establishing a National Advisory Panel to oversee the National Direction and Strategy for Circular Economy in Australia; and,
  4. Nominating a Circular Economy Ambassador as an advocate for the National Direction and Strategy.

Download the report: Waste Innovation for a Circular Economy – A summary report for the CSIRO Cutting Edge Science and Engineering Symposium