The CSIRO’s circular economy roadmap has outlined strategies to create jobs and build profits through plastic, glass, paper and tyres that are in landfill.
The National Circular Economy Roadmap is pushing for an increase in market development and demand for recycled materials and nationally consistent governance for supply chains.
With the Australian Government’s ban on waste exports last year, the CSIRO claim the roadmap is an opportunity to turn trash into treasure.
The CSIRO estimates that increasing the recovery rate by 5 per cent would add $1 billion to Australia’s GDP.
“Australia is among the world’s best in advanced manufacturing and environmental research, and that unique science can turn industry and environment into partners by making sustainability profitable,” CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said
“Science can transform our economy into a circular one that renews and reuses what we previously discarded, and indeed a virtuous circle that creates higher paid jobs, advances new Australian technology, and protects our environment.”
Elements for success
Six elements are listed on the roadmap including:
1. Retaining material through use and collection.
2. Improving recycling technologies.
3. Design and manufacturing innovations.
4. Developing secondary material markets.
5. A nationally consistent governance.
6. A zero waste culture.
Improved access to markets for recycled glass products is one of the suggestions listed by the CSIRO.
The CSIRO stated a current hindrance in using glass for construction materials is updating the standards to allow use of materials that contain recycled glass.
“From interviews and some reports (Sustainability Victoria, 2018), there is a perception in the construction market that recycled glass may be substandard,” the CSIRO stated.
“If it would be useful to have standards for recycled glass that meets the expectations of the construction industry, it would be yet more useful to co-ordinate standards across jurisdictions.”
According to the roadmap, the use of recycled materials in the construction industry would be greatly increased with updated construction material standards.
“The growing supply of secondary materials from domestic recycling facilities will require growth in markets for these materials – for reuse either in manufacturing or construction – to make the supply chains truly circular,” the CSIRO stated.
“Industry can contribute through forward commitment procurement with the large potential in the construction industry to absorb substantial amounts of secondary materials.”
To drive a circular economy in supply chains, the role of nationally consistent governance would provide consistent standards.
“Developing national specifications and standards would also reduce perceived risks associated with using recycled materials by providing specific conditions that need to be met in order to attain an approved level of performance and increase confidence for suppliers and consumers operating across jurisdictions,” the CSIRO stated.
“Harmonisation will include common standards for collection and waste levies, harmonised policy for single-use plastic products, harmonised regulatory settings for tyre recycling and a national standard for recycled materials used in construction and other applications.”
Australia’s recycling sector currently generates 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste, and the roadmap could see this number tripled with the roadmap, the CSIRO suggested.
Australia loses $419 million of plastic, $115 million of paper, $2.5 billion of lithium and $70 million of litter to landfill each year.
The National Circular Economy Roadmap can be viewed on the CSIRO website.