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Circular Economy a Growth Economy

18 June 2021

A circular economy is a growth economy, according to a recent KPMG report, and one which could give Australia a $23 billion GDP boost by 2025. By 2047-48, this is expected to grow to $210 billion in GDP, supporting 17,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

Commissioned by the CSIRO, the 2020 report “Potential economic pay-off of a circular economy for Australia” looks purely at economic value, in terms of impacts on GDP and employment. This startling amount is without also factoring in the significant environmental and social benefits to be realised in monetary terms.

The report examines 8 different opportunities for circular action across 3 main areas of Food, Transport, and the Built Environment as a proxy to estimate economy-wide impacts for Australia. Initiatives from the report include greater efficiency of water use, food waste, biogas from organic waste, nutrient recovery, recycling, transport electrification, car-sharing and more compact, energy-efficient dwellings.

In 2014, the World Economic Forum estimated that the global material cost savings of adopting a more restorative economy could be over US$1 trillion per year by 2025.” KPMG Report

The Circular Economy was a recent focus of NASAA Organic’s magazine ‘Organic Insights’ with interviews featuring companies and individuals supporting the movement to a more sustainable future. Here we provide a snapshot.

Food and organic waste recycling is the exemplar of the Circular Economy.

Nutrient recovery and recycling are the focus for the Australian Organic Recycling Association (AORA) as the peak body for organics recycling in Australia, who represent the wider resource recovery and organics management industry.

The Association works on behalf of its members to advocate and raise awareness of the benefits of recycling organic resources. Last year, the Association released a report, undertaken by Australian Economic Advocacy Solutions, which looked at “The Economic Contribution of the Australian Organics Recycling Industry.”

It found that in 2018-19, Australia produced 14.6 million tonnes of organic waste, of which 5.6 million tonnes went to landfill; 7.5 million tonnes were recycled at an overall national organic recycling rate of 51.5%, with South Australia having the highest organics material recycling rate at 78.9%.
AORA recently released a 10-year national strategy, which provides an ambitious target to get to 80% recycling of organics by 2025, and 95% by 2030.

The strategy seeks to overcome major impediments to industry growth, which are seen as regulatory policy uncertainty; contamination of input material; Government policy (such as waste and recycling strategies); business licensing and operating permits; development applications (time, cost and politicisation); Government procurement failing to support organic recycling products; and short council contract periods.
The recently announced Federal Budget spend of $67.0 million to be invested in new food organic and garden organic waste (FOGO) initiatives has been a huge positive for the industry.

Closed loop design thinking is key.

Sustaining Endeavour’s Closed Loop Dripperline Recycling Service is now in its fifth year of operation.

The Dripperline Recycling Service facilitates the delivery of used plastic dripper lines and pipes from South Australian farmers to Adelaide plastics recycler, Recycling Plastics Australia, (RPA) for conversion into Sustaining Endeavour Post-Agri Resin, SE PAR. The SE PAR resin is then used by irrigation solutions company Netafim Australia to manufacture Netafim LDPE Pipe.

Sustaining Endeavour facilitates the collection of dripper lines, educates farmers on how best to recoil used dripper lines, matches supply to the recycler’s capacity and ensures the resulting Resin matches the needs of exclusive sponsor Netafim Australia in manufacturing Netafim LDPE Pipe at their factory in Melbourne. Sustaining Endeavour also issues a Certificate of Regional Plastic Clean Up and Recycling to each grower using the service.

Woodshield is another company using recycled plastic resin to manufacture commercial fencing posts to suit a range of purposes, providing a sustainable alternative to toxic treated CCA and creosote timber.

Woodshield posts are made up of chemically free timber fully encased in a layer of plastic resin coating. This provides additional strength, extended life, heat and weather resistance, and protection from pests such as termites. The posts are chemically inert, which means they won’t leach chemicals into the soil. They are long-lasting, and at end of life, the polymer coating can be stripped and recycled. The untreated timber, cut for firewood or shredded for mulch.

These properties make it an ideal substitute for treated timber on farm.

Woodshield’s award-winning posts were first taken up by the viticulture industry; and the company now supplies product for use in aquaculture, orchards, equestrian pursuits, general farm fencing and public infrastructure, with posts being exported to New Zealand, the US, and Japan.
With their circular economy product utilising Agri-waste and giving an old school farm application an extended life span and answer to product end disposal (without having to break the bank); This simple post is one to look out for!

The future is Bio Plastic substitution.

BioAgri from BioBag World Australis is a fully compostable and biodegradable agricultural film for use in horticulture. The product is ideally recommended for vegetable produce with a lifespan of 3-6 months, with the rate of degradation dependent on climate and temperatures. The biofilm can be ploughed directly into the soil at the end of harvest and will break down to organic matter, leaving no toxic residues. The film can be laid with the same equipment used for traditional plastic mulching films.

Biobag World Australia is part of the global BioBag International group, a world leader in biofilm innovation. In 2019, BioBag World Australia established manufacturing facilities in South Australia, supplying biofilm product direct to local government, consumers, retailers, and farmers.

Best known for its household waste ‘Bio Bags’, recent innovations have included the development of a compostable film casing for cucumbers for Drake’s Supermarkets; delivering tubular compostable bags for the removal of coffee grounds, and bio-film casings for magazines and other forms of direct mail. The company is now also delivering biofilm overwrap for a range of produce applications.

Further Information

Adapted with permission from the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia, trading as NASAA Organic.

NASAA Organic plays a critically important role in supporting and promoting the adoption of organic agricultural practices that lead to safer and more sustainable food production systems.

NASAA Organic’s subsidiary business, NASAA Certified Organic (NCO), is one of the most well-recognised certifiers of organic food production in Australia to meet all domestic and international export market requirements.

KPMG Report: Potential economic pay-off of a circular economy for Australia
AORA Strategic Plan
Sustaining Endeavour

circular economyclosed loopsustainable farm practiceswaste managementrecylcing & recovery

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