Circular economy must be 'baked in'

Reuse, repurposing, recycling and a low environmental footprint must be baked into all aspects of society in Australia, from housing to industrial development and manufacturing.

This is crucial for Australia’s net zero goals and achieving a sustainable planet. It is also crucial for Australia’s economic future, as key markets increasingly expect products to meet global circular economy standards. 

As this report makes clear, Australia has comparative advantages in the development of a circular economy. The task is to turn these into competitive advantages, building on Australia’s expertise and its natural wealth. 

Batteries are a good example. Australia produces of 9 of the 10 minerals required to manufacture lithium-ion batteries. As we consider options for battery manufacturing here, it’s imperative that we develop business models that take account of the entire lifecycle. 

This means working out ways to recycle the valuable metals used in batteries and finding secondary uses for batteries at end of life, such as using car batteries for stationary storage and refurbishing commercial batteries for household use. 

The circular economy offers potential to change business models. One model for solar panels and other household manufactured goods that appeals to me is where the ownership stays with the producer of the solar panels – they’re rented rather than sold to households. At the end of life, the manufacturer recycles. This incentivises systems for recycling and reuse.

Find out more about the report