Technology can positively disrupt the waste and resource recovery sector in Australia
Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering reports that Australians create around 67 million tonnes of waste each year, which equates to 2.7 tonnes per person. As our population increases, we generate more waste. New products and technologies are changing the way we use resources and manage materials. Supply chains and international markets are also changing, meaning more of our waste products and materials need to be processed in Australia. We need to do this efficiently and productively, and reduce the amount of material that goes to landfill. The need to transition Australia towards a more circular economy is now critical. Prolonging the life, functionality and value of products, components and materials will be key to achieving this.
The linear ‘take, make, use and dispose’ approach of global production and consumption — the driving force of today’s global economy — is unsustainable. In 2017, 92 billion tonnes of resources were extracted globally, but only 8.6 billion tonnes were recycled — less than 9%.3 If the current trajectory is maintained to 2050 we will need the equivalent of almost three planets to produce sufficient resources to satisfy global human consumption.
Humanity needs to reduce the consumption of finite resources by deliberately designing products, systems and infrastructure with the aim of creating less waste — and by reusing, recycling and recovering valuable resources. By changing the linear model of consumption to a more circular model, we can shift to a more sustainable course in which production continues to meet demand, supporting economic productivity while reducing our impact on the environment.
The economic argument for circular economy principles is well-established, driven by efficient resource use. New jobs are created, particularly in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), through increased innovation and entrepreneurship, and a growth in service-based work. Circular approaches perform better in metrics based on the traditional triple bottom line (financial, environmental and social) in addition to supporting incidental benefits associated with increased collaboration, connectivity and improved supply chains between industries.
The Impact X Summit Sydney 2022, happening in Sydney on 9-11 November 2022, brings together industry leaders, climate tech innovators, and government and business decision makers who share a common passion: to tackle this generation’s greatest challenge – climate change.
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