The planned national waste policy won’t deliver a truly circular economy



File 20180928 72336 16wjfyo.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
The proposed policy doesn’t quite fit all the pieces together.
Shutterstock.com

Jenni Downes, University of Technology Sydney

Australia’s government has announced new planned waste recycling targets, as part of its response to the crisis prompted by China’s decision to crack down on recycling imports earlier this year.

The wider goal of Australia’s plan to update the National Waste Policy is to embrace circular economy principles.

That process is now in train. Following engagement with industry and government working groups, a proposed update to the policy is now open for public comment.

So how well does the proposed new policy incorporate circular economy principles? The short answer is, not well enough.




Read more:
Explainer: what is the circular economy?


A circular economy is centred on keeping products, components and materials circulating in use for as long as possible, through long-lasting design, repair, reuse, re-manufacturing and recycling. The ultimate aim is to minimise the amount of resources consumed, and waste generated, by our economic activities.

The proposed principles, targets and strategies are a good start. They will help tackle a range of issues, including:

  • dealing with China’s recycling imports crackdown by improving local capacity
  • increasing the currently limited responsibility for products at end of life
  • focusing on organic waste (such as food and textiles), one of the major obstacles to current recovery rates
  • reducing litter and marine plastic debris
  • harmonising the various disparate state policies.
Synthesis of proposed National Waste Policy.
UTS Institute for Sustainable futures adapted from Department of Environment and Energy

Yet these proposals, while all crucial, represent only a moderate evolution from our current situation, rather than the revolution needed to truly embrace the circular economy.

The policy’s major focus is still on recycling and recovery, and while recycling is certainly a “circular” activity, the circular economy involves so much more than simply improving how we reclaim and reprocess unwanted materials.

A truly circular society aims to transform our whole system of production and consumption, with innovative approaches like “products as services” (through leasing or collaborative consumption) and designing for next life and new life (through repairability, modularity and disassembly).

Linear, recycling and circular economies.
Adapted by ISF from Netherlands Government-wide Programme for a Circular Economy

Global changes, local opportunities

The proposed policy misses the opportunity to focus on innovation and create a step change in not only the resource recovery industry, but our whole economy and broader society.

The public arguably has more awareness of this issue than ever before, thanks to the continuing emergence of sustainability as a concept, combined with China’s shock to our recycling industry and the media focus afforded by campaigns such as the ABC’s War on Waste documentary series.

Public awareness and expectation is one thing, but to deliver on these goals the national waste policy must strengthen the explicit adoption of circular economy principles and significantly increase support to transition towards it.

This includes such things as:

  • appointment of a Commissioner for Circular Economy
  • explicit targets for reuse, repair, reassembly and remanufacture
  • “Circular” procurement of goods and infrastructure
  • support for innovation in business models for circular economy
  • standards for imports, not just local production
  • federal tax incentives, funding, and research and development to enable all of the above.

Australia has a unique opportunity to lay the building blocks for the type of economy and society we want. Let’s hope we can get it right.The Conversation

Jenni Downes, Senior Research Consultant, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia: Queensland – Electric Vehicle Highway


The link below is to an article that takes a look at Australia’s planned electric vehicle highway in Queensland.

For more visit:
http://e360.yale.edu/digest/australia-is-building-a-1250-mile-highway-for-electric-vehicles

Costa Rica: Releasing All Zoo Animals


The link below is to an article reporting on the planned closure of Costa Rica’s zoos and letting the animals go free.

For more visit:
http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/costa-rica-announces-plans-close-all-zoos-saying-animals-deserve-be-nature.html

Regent Honeyeater: Captive-bred birds to be Released into Wild


The link below is to an article that reports on the planned release of captive-bred Regent Honeyeaters to boost wild population.

For more visit:
http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/regent-honeyeater-population-gets-a-boost.htm

Western Australia: Shark Cull


The link below is to an article reporting on a planned shark cull in Western Australia, Australia.

For more visit:
http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/shark-cull-planned-for-popular-wa-beaches.htm

Article: Australia – Great Barrier Reef


Call for Marine Park Expansion

The following link is to an article reporting on calls for an expansion to the planned marine park in the Coral Sea. The planned marine park will protect an area of almost 1 million square kilometres, making it the world’s largest protected marine area.

For more visit:
http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/calls-to-expand-marine-protection-in-coral-sea-20120525-1z8oi.html

Chile – Patagonia: Wilderness Threatened by Massive Dam


The Patagonian wilderness is truly an amazing place. I have never been there, but have been fascinated by it for years. It captures my imagination and wonder anytime I see pictures or footage of it. Now I have discovered that this wilderness is under threat.

The article below reports on plans to construct a massive dam that has the potential to cause massive destruction of the Patagonian wilderness. It would seem that the planned dam is incredibly foolish and will destroy a large section of one of the world’s last remaining wild places.

For more visit:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/chile-favors-7-billion-hydroelectric-dams-on-remote-patagonian-rivers-despite-opposition/2011/05/09/AFcA2aaG_story.html

 

Updating the Website


I am constantly looking at ways to improve the kevinswilderness.com website and add new content to it. With the success of the Google Map that was added to the page dealing with my recent road trip, I have decided to add Google Maps wherever they would prove useful – such as for locations, track routes, etc.

The first part of the site getting an overhaul with Google Maps in mind, is the Barrington Tops page. I am also adding new content to the page as I go. The Barrington Tops page is one of the biggest pages on my site, so the process is taking a bit of time. You will also find the planned itinerary for my backpacking camping holiday here as well as I move along with it.

Visit the page at:

http://www.kevinswilderness.com/NSW/tops.html

NSW Road Trip 2010: Packing & Getting Ready


It is now the day prior to the NSW Road trip 2010. I have begun packing and getting ready for the journey that lies ahead. I don’t expect to be taking a lot of gear, as I won’t be doing a lot of cooking, washing, etc, on this trip.

I have learnt that it is important to not assume that you have everything you need and then find out the day before that you may not – I already knew this of course, but having recently moved, I no longer have everything that I once did. For example, I do not presently have a sleeping bag. I got rid of the last one because it was old and smelly, and I planned to buy another. But a lot has happened since mid 2007 when I packed to move – including a near fatal car accident that put my purchasing plans well and truly on hold, and they then slipped into the area of my mind that ‘forgets.’

So now I have no sleeping bag – but that isn’t too important as I don’t believe I really need one this time round. It is a road trip, with several cabin stops along the way and only caravan parks with powered sites for the rest. I will take a couple of blankets should I need them (which I don’t believe I will – it will be quite hot in the outback this time of year).

Of course it is not just the sleeping bag that is missing. I am also missing a fly cover for the tent, but thankfully I had two tents so I’m OK there. There are a number of other items missing also, but I don’t really need them this time round. Thankfully I have spotted all this now, which means I can plan to purchase what I need for future adventures, back pack camping, etc. I had of course planned to buy these items, but with the passing of time I forgot.

Anyhow, the packing is under way and I just hope I don’t forget something I wish I had packed when I am on the journey. I’m relatively sure I haven’t – which isn’t to say That I have forgotten something.

What I’d like to remember – and tomorrow I’ll know for sure if I have – is how I packed the car, so that everything was easily accessible. I was fairly well organised for this sort of thing when I was doing it fairly regularly several years ago – but it has been a while. Minimal gear wisely packed, without leaving anything necessary behind – that’s the key for this type of journey and vacation.

This will be the first time however, that I have a bag dedicated to my online activities – laptop, digital camera, web cam, flash drives, etc. I hope to keep an accurate and useful journal online at the kevinswilderness.com website, with photos, comments, route map, etc. So this is a ‘new’ bag that I need to organise in the overall scheme of things.

Anyhow, packing is now underway and coming to a conclusion. The journey will soon kick off.