The circular economy is a concept we at Wastech Engineering are deeply familiar with and appreciative of.
We believe that if implemented properly, it could have a transformative impact on our way of life, unlocking a range of benefits that we simply aren’t able to take advantage of right now.
To help more people understand why we’re so excited about the circular economy, we’ve prepared this short article identifying a few of its key benefits. Read on and join us in helping to build a happier, more sustainable Australia.
Reduce our environmental footprint
The most obvious advantage, a circular economy would immediately reduce the impact the Australian way of life had on the planet and our country. Internationally, Australia is a resource-intensive country, with one study indicating that if the entire world consumed at the same rate that we do we would need the equivalent of more than five Earths’ worth of resources to meet demand. A circular economy would reduce the amount of natural resources we required to sustain our lifestyle, giving the planet a well-deserved break.
Make maximum use of every resource
We all learn ‘waste not, want not’ as a child, why don’t we apply it at the national level? Australia is blessed with an abundance of mineral, agricultural and marine resources, but we could be getting so much more out of each of them. Any good business-owner knows that leaving a resource only half-used is tantamount to leaving money on the table. Extracting maximum value from each kilogram of iron, hectare of wheat and containerload of plastic will require a complete reassessment of each that takes into account their entire lifecycle, but the reward is significant.
Reduce reliance on trade
A related concept, by ensuring we get every cent of value out of every resource we acquire, we can reduce our reliance on international trade. For example, Australia imported more than US$4.5 billion worth of iron and steel in 2019. With a properly implemented circular economy that took into account the entire lifespan of a unit of steel, the value of this material could be continually re-realised over and over again, limiting our need for further importation in the future.
Reclaim inefficiently used land
Australians create more than 67 million tonnes of waste each year – that all has to go somewhere. The vast majority of that enormous number goes straight to landfill. With more than 600 regulated sites and as many as 2000 unregulated landfills in Australia, our waste has a significant footprint.
A smarter approach could change that. Reducing how much we throw away can reduce the area we need to store our waste. A circular economy would allow us to retire, reclaim and reuse many of the landfills in Australia, transforming real blights on the landscape to more useful ends – or simply rewilding them as part of conservation efforts.
Create new industries (and grow existing ones)
Change always brings with it opportunity. The transformation of the Australian economy from its current linear “take, make, dispose" model would open the door to enterprising individuals to launch entirely new ventures. Materials that we currently send straight to landfill would need to instead go through an entirely different pipeline that reclaims some of their value – a pipeline that currently doesn’t exist. The need to make maximum use of every resource at our fingertips would require a radical expansion of our waste management and recycling sectors, creating jobs and spurring innovation across the sector.
It’s an industry and a vision that Wastech Engineering is proud to be a part of. A leader in waste management technology, Wastech Engineering provides end-to-end solutions for companies across Australia looking to get smart about their resources.