Several interventions to increase urban resource efficiency and adopt circular economic approaches are being promoted by the governments of Oceanic cities, with the intention of creating economic and social opportunities whilst reducing adverse environmental impacts. Such a major economic transition requires a coordinated and integrated approach.
As Australia’s main hub of knowledge, capital and innovation, Sydney is a key player in the shift towards a circular economy (CE) in the continent. Here, green economy jobs have grown twice as fast as overall employment in recent years. Sustainable finance is also a major area of focus in Sydney. Funded by the state government, NSW Circular is a body that works with stakeholders across governments, industries, research organisations and the community to remove barriers to the circular economy. This is done by creating open-source CE data, helping deliver CE markets, infrastructure, and services.
Metropolitan Sydney only, contributes around 38% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Given these numbers, the focus on CE initiatives in Sydney could bring about a big change to the state and country altogether. According to NSW Circular, CE interventions could halve Greater Sydney’s emissions from energy, transport, and waste in the next 15 years.
Adelaide, which is a city in the state of South Australia, is going forward on the circular journey by mainly targeting its carbon emissions. The City of Adelaide is now the first council in South Australia to be powered by 100% renewable energy and is also aiming to be the world’s first completely carbon neutral city. The city is also part of the state of Australia that currently has the highest recycling rates, with 76% of materials being recycled or composted.
Melbourne has seen a lot of growth in support and funding into circular economy projects. ‘Recycling Victoria’ which is the state’s waste and recycling policy, prioritises Circular Economy as one of its main goals. With the efforts outlined in this policy, Victoria aims to divert around 80% of waste from landfills by 2030. In 2018, the state government tried to shift its approach to waste and recycling and was open to public opinion which consisted of different government bodies, businesses, individuals, research organisations and community groups. Based on the feedback from the public, this policy was developed to then support the state’s economy and circular innovation. Over the 10-year span of this plan, the Victorian government has set out $300m in investments to support businesses and the community to innovate, adopt, and implement circular economy opportunities and business models. Melbourne has seen a recent growth in business innovation and entrepreneurship in the CE space. With the help of Circular Economy Innovation grants from the City of Melbourne, many local businesses can conduct operations that reduce their waste going to landfills, their emissions and boost the local economy.
Perth (Kwinana), Australia
In the state of Western Australia, Perth is adopting a circular economy by focusing on its operational emissions reduction by 30% by 2030. The Kwinana Industrial Area (KIA), located in the southwestern part of Perth is known to be one of the leading examples of industrial symbiosis in the world. This area is home to many businesses operating in proximity and exchanging and reusing over 150 of their documented products and by-products. Utilising the previously discarded material from one business as an alternative input for another business’s operations can help improve resource recovery and use while improving the sustainability performance of all the participating businesses. KIA consists of many industries ranging from fabrication and construction, mining, agriculture, to chemical and biotechnology plants. Kwinana is also soon set to house Australia’s first waste-to-energy plant.
Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin, which is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand has adopted the circular economy as part of its larger ‘Waste Futures’ project. The city has actively committed towards zero waste Dunedin and net-zero Carbon by 2030.
The focus for the city will be through waste minimisation and resource recovery. Dunedin’s waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions with solid waste accounting for 7.4%. Thus, reducing this waste and identifying methods of reusing and recycling more products would help the city reduce its carbon emissions. The city has also committed to adopting the regenerative Doughnut Economics and developing ways for Dunedin’s growth in line with its ecological boundaries. New Zealand in general, is one of the first countries to incorporate indigenous Māori knowledge into the Doughnut and has now created its own interpretation, the ‘Te Reo Māori’ doughnut.
About the Author
Tamanna is the Environment and Market Manager at ASPIRE in Melbourne, where she works with governments and businesses in incorporating circular economy principles. She pursued her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) from Deakin University and has keen interests in sustainability, climate change and wildlife conservation