Research & policy

Circular economy report

In 2020, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering will be examining Australia’s potential to create a circular economy, or an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.

Circular systems employ recycling, re-use, remanufacturing and refurbishment to create a closed system, minimising the use of resource input and the creation of waste.

The investigation is part of a major three-year research project examining the technology readiness of Australian industry sectors.

By assessing the status of each sector it will provide insights into Australia’s ability to capitalize on opportunities in the emerging digital economy that will rely on technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, augmented reality, automation, big data and user interfaces.

Australia faces a critical challenge in the management of our waste. The current recycling crisis relating to plastics will only become more serious as new forms of waste increase, including e-waste, solar PV panels, and batteries.

Advanced technologies and engineering solutions have the potential to increase diversion from landfill and recover valuable resources from the waste stream.

Economic benefits of a waste management industry include job creation (for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled, 9.2 jobs are created) and it has been estimated a recycling plant could bring up to $166 million in net gain to one state alone (Victoria) over the coming decade.

This project will deliver an objective, evidence-based, expert assessment of Australia’s readiness to develop a leading-edge circular economy based on innovation and technology by 2030, along with targeted policy and research recommendations to support this transformation.

The report will provide a framework to support Australia to turn this crisis into a thriving, world-leading industry.

If you would like to find out more about this project, listen to Fellows discussing the issues in the podcasts below, or contact us at policy@atse.org.au.