Circular Economy & Waste

Post Pandemic Policy Paper

Circular Economy & Waste

Post Pandemic Policy Paper

Rachael Wilkinson
Policy Officer
rachael.wilkinson@aigroup.com.au

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The circular economy and waste have never been bigger news, or more firmly planted on the agenda of Australian governments, than today. There is broad agreement that Australia needs to transition to a circular economy and do our part in tackling the waste crisis.

Despite that consensus, Australian recycling is challenged by collapsing foreign markets, contaminants and our comparatively small local market for recycled inputs.

Governments need to explore more complementary measures to build national and sustainable markets for recovered materials. The heart of the issue is that without demand for recovered materials we are unlikely to succeed in any of our waste goals.

Despite the challenge, the waste crisis presents us with significant opportunity. Innovation is the gateway for turning waste from a problem into a product and our country is home to many great innovators. We have strong capability in this regard.

Industry acknowledges that it has a role to play in lowering the costs and overcoming the challenges associated with transitioning to a circular economy. Still, a shift away from our use-and-throw model will require effort from all corners. Overcoming the waste crisis and achieving a truly circular economy takes teamwork from industry, government and the community.

Now more than ever, we need a harmonised and comprehensive ‘all hands on deck’ approach to reduce waste in the first instance; make better use of waste streams that can’t be avoided; decrease our need for landfill; reduce or eliminate environmental impacts; and achieve circularity, all while growing the economy and providing Australians with the products they need. We have seen great strides from industry, government and the community towards these goals in recent years, but there is still much more to do.