The thinking behind a circular economy is not new, but the policies and programs required to bring about positive change demand fresh approaches and system-wide thinking that can enable alternative business models.
A growing number of governments worldwide, researchers and companies are recognising that the ‘take-make-waste’ model is failing society and the environment. A throw-away culture driven by brands and retailers who feed unsustainable levels of consumption is reflecting on its way forward and the structural changes that must be implemented.
In Australia we are seeing evidence of how some companies are approaching circular thinking and solutions, and we are also witnessing some state governments embrace the shift to a circular economy, namely South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
The efforts however are chiefly (but not always) focused on low-hanging fruit and incremental steps around waste reduction, recycled content and recycling as opposed to economy-wide initiatives that dematerialise, decarbonise, regenerate and fundamentally pursue closed loop, zero-waste products and services.
It’s not a straightforward transition, nor is it one free of risk, cost and dramatic changes in how we produce and consume. But it is a transition that will change mindsets and the way we view products, materials and concepts of ownership and function.
So it is refreshing and energising to see some organisations embrace the need for positive change by viewing the circular economy as a catalyst for doing things differently and doing things better while adopting the circular principles.
Equilibrium has had the opportunity to share some insights and case-studies of how a circular economy can be expressed through strategies that go beyond recycling and test the relevance of dematerialisation, sharing, leasing, product durability and repair. Not necessarily perfect or large scale, but nonetheless holistic, life-cycle oriented, and free of brand-driven spin.
Recent presentations to the Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group, as well as the Rail Industry Standards and Safety Board, provided a forum to test what the circular economy means to diverse stakeholders, but also gauge where different organisations are at with their own thinking and implementation.
If you’re interested in the transition to a circular economy and need to investigate its relevance and practical application, you should make contact with the team at Equilibrium. We can also share some of our presentations as a starting point to inform and engage.
John Gertsakis – Director, Communications
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