Circular economy legislation passes in a first for the ACT

circular economy legislation

The ACT Government last week passed legislation to support a new legal framework to create a circular economy in Canberra.

The changes focus on keeping more resources in the economy for longer, to create more sustainable jobs.

“We want Canberra to be a circular city where we value waste as a resource,” said Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services.

“These laws will support the establishment of a circular economy in the ACT, where waste is reduced and where the reuse and recovery of resources is maximised.

“These laws build on the work already undertaken to reduce the harm of plastic, and encourages renewable, reusable and non-toxic resources to be kept in use at their highest value.”

The new legislation will extend powers to ban other problematic, non-plastic products, following the ACT Government’s successful phase-out of certain single-use plastics.

“While single-use plastic presents a particular problem, this legislation recognises that non-plastic products and non-single-use products can also be harmful to the environment and to human health,”  Steel said.

Similar to the process for phasing-out single use plastics, when problematic or toxic non-plastic products are identified the government will invite public submissions before making any decision to ban them.

Steel said the most significant part of the Act introduces new powers to introduce recyclable waste processing requirements. The initial intention would be to use this power to require recyclable material producing businesses to separate and recycle co-mingled recycled materials.

“This Bill will enable the government to set a level playing field for all businesses, ensuring more resources are recycled and diverted from landfill,” Steel said.

Consultation is also underway on draft regulations, including a proposed waste reduction requirement for food businesses to implement food waste reduction plans, and new processing requirements to separate food waste and ensure it is recycled.

“Around 9500 tonnes of commercial and industrial food waste are estimated to be going into landfill in the ACT, where it turns into methane and contributes to climate change,” Steel said.

“A circular approach involves reducing food waste as much as possible in the first place, and then making sure that valuable food waste goes on to be reused, recycled or composted, and even used in growing more food.”

Consultations have begun on the draft regulation, which is proposed be made under the new Act, and a comprehensive regulatory impact statement (RIS), with impacted stakeholders, business and industry.

The RIS has found there would be substantial benefits from the new requirement for the environment, emissions reduction, the waste management industry and food rescue organisations, with the regulations prolonging the lifespan of the ACT’s landfill.

“These laws are just part of the ACT Government’s 53 actions that we have identified to build a circular economy in Canberra, outlined in our Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan,” Steel said.

Copies of the draft regulation and draft regulatory impact statement are available at

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