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 Australia’s transition to a circular economy.
“Our research clearly shows the Australian business community understands the need to transition towards a circular economy and the opportunity it represents,” Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko said.
“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.”
The ACE Hub was launched by Environment Minister Sussan Ley at an event livestreamed from the Sydney Opera House.
The ACE Hub will 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:
— Inspire and amplify to drive awareness of the circular economy
— Educate and connect through the online platform which will showcase case studies, news and a curated knowledge hub.
— 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.
— 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.
“Our $1.6 million investment in the Planet Ark ACE Hub through the Environment Restoration Fund 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.”
Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans added that the ACE Hub will be key to Australian industry participating in a circular economy, as it strives to keep important materials in circulation for as long as possible.
“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,” he said.
The 2020 Circularity Gap Report (CGR), a global assessment of circular economy progress produced by Circle Economy, states that 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 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.
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.
Plant Ark Power Executive Director Richard Romanowski said while some might think they understand and express their commitment to creating a circular economy, how they can actually play their part requires knowledge, training and resources.
“This is the intrinsic value of Planet Ark’s ACE Hub. It’s an essential go-to resource that provides the tools to help us turn circular economy principles into everyday practice,” he said.
The ACE Hub is made possible thanks to funding partner the Federal Government and associate sponsors BINGO Industries and KeepCup.
According to BINGO Industries CEO Daniel Tartak, many countries around the world are already a long way towards transitioning to a circular economy.
“Australia needs to start investing in the technology and research, building recycling infrastructure and making the policy shifts required so we are not left behind,” he said.
“The ACE Hub will provide a place to generate ideas, collaborate and work together to solve the challenges of limited resources, increasing waste volumes and reducing emissions.”
Similarly, KeepCup Managing Director Abigail Forsyth said Australia needs to transition to a circular economy because resources are finite and running out.
“I see the role of [the ACE Hub] as a North Star; to set a vision for what the circular economy is, to educate people about what it is, to identify the easy wins that can be put into a circular economy and to drive it and give it momentum,” she said.