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Australian Circular Economy Hub comes to life

An overwhelming 88 per cent of Australian business leaders believe the circular economy will be important to the future of business, according to new research from Planet Ark.

Titled ‘Circularity in Australian Business 2020’, the research report measures how Australian businesses are tracking in their understanding and implementation of the circular economy.

Planet Ark surveyed business decision makers to assess circular economy progress in Australia ahead of the launch of its newest program — the Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub) — which aims to fast-track our nation’s transition to a circular economy. The ACE Hub has been funded by $1.6 million investment through the Environment Restoration Fund.

According to Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko, “Our research clearly shows the Australian business community understands the need to transition towards a circular economy and the opportunity it represents.

“We are incredibly proud to be launching the ACE Hub to facilitate and accelerate this transition and excited to continue evolving the platform to meet the needs of our circular economy community as it grows.”

Tiny global footprint

The 2020 Circularity Gap Report (CGR), a global assessment of circular economy progress produced by Circle Economy, states the world is currently just 8.6 per cent circular. This is despite the significant benefits a circular economy, which by 2048 is estimated to rise to a present value of $210 billion in GDP while also providing an additional 17,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Planet Ark’s research found while 58 per cent of business decision leaders said they were very or extremely knowledgeable about the circular economy, only 42 per cent correctly identified that a circular economy is designed to ensure regenerative processes and products. In contrast, 46 per cent of respondents incorrectly defined the concept as being only related to recycling or removing waste from the supply chain.

One-stop-shop

The ACE Hub was launched by the Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, at an event this week and is intended to act as a one-stop-shop for circular economy inspiration, education and implementation in Australia, with the program focusing its activities around four key pillars:

  1. Inspire and amplify to drive awareness of the circular economy
  2. Educate and connect through the online platform which will showcase case studies, news and a curated knowledge hub.
  3. Enable action though high impact national programs focused around a marketplace for the use of secondary materials, metrics, procurement, education, priority areas and product stewardship.
  4. Support and promote change by identifying barriers and create enabling conditions to overcome them.

“The Prime Minister has set an ambitious agenda to realise the environmental and economic benefits of building a circular economy,” Ley said.

“This is an important step along with our investments in product stewardship, the national waste action plan and legislative changes.

“We are driving a $1 billion transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling industry and the need for manufacturers and brand owners to consider every stage of a product’s lifecycle, from design to re-use, and re-manufacture through a genuine circular approach is fundamental.”

Report launch

In addition to launching the online platform and releasing the Circularity in Australian Business 2020 report, Planet Ark also unveiled its Strategic Action Plan for the ACE Hub program.

The strategic plan details a range of initiatives under the four pillars that will define priorities and provide the framework for the effective delivery of commitments made for the ACE Hub. BINGO Industries and KeepCup are also associate sponsors.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans added, “The benefits of moving to a circular economy are clear. We will have more jobs in recycling and remanufacturing, will save on raw materials and use less energy and have fewer of our waste resources going to landfill.

“The Australian Circular Economy Hub will be key to Australian industry participating in a circular economy as we strive to keep important materials like plastic, glass and paper in circulation for as long as possible and out of landfill.”

Edge Environment Circular Economy Principal, Jenni Philippe  said that through the technical partnership, Edge will be contributing its expertise in circular economy and lifecycle thinking to provide thought leadership, evidence-based analysis and recommendations to enable action and support the ACE Hub in the delivery of its programs.”