Circular Economy a pathway to new jobs and economic prosperity

8 June

A major study released in May shows how the Circular Economy – which reinvents how products are created, used and maintained – can create thousands of jobs and lessen carbon emissions in South Australia.

The study, Creating value, the potential benefits of a Circular Economy for South Australia highlights how a more Circular Economy can achieve economic growth while producing no, or minimal, waste and pollution.

According to the study, the Circular Economy has the ability to:

  • Create an extra 25,700 full-time jobs by 2030 in areas such as waste collection, recovery and recycling, reuse (repair, sales of second-hand goods), sharing (rental and leasing) activities and design and technology industries.
  • Encourage South Australians and local businesses to share and repair products.
  • Lead to better product design – creating products that can be used for longer and reused in different ways.
  • Reduce South Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 27 per cent or 7.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent making a significant contribution towards reducing future climate change.

The study reinforces South Australia’s reputation for leadership in innovative practices and reforms in waste management, recycling and resource recovery.

Gaining momentum internationally, the concept of the Circular Economy is largely untapped in Australia. Driven by renewable energy, it builds on the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ framework by trying to keep material resources in use for as long as possible.

This is in contrast to the traditional linear economic system of ‘take, make, use and dispose’ which is considered wasteful because more resources need to be used to provide new services and products.

Examples of South Australian businesses which use the Circular Economy principles include Sundrop, which grows truss tomatoes using seawater and sunlight at Port Augusta greenhouses, and Peats Soil and Garden Supplies, which uses waste organic material to produce high-quality compost products.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the Circular Economy aligns with the State Government’s focus on creating jobs, building resilient local economies, and developing a low carbon economy.

“I’m excited by the potential of the Circular Economy to support our State’s transition from an ‘old’ to a ‘new’ economy,” Mr Weatherill said.

“We can make lasting changes for our economic prosperity, protect the environment and the quality of life we value and reduce carbon emissions.”

Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter said South Australia’s recycling rate is a success story, as we currently divert from landfill around more than 80 per cent of the waste we generate.

“The waste and resource recovery industry has an annual turnover of around $1 billion, contributing directly and indirectly more than $500 million to Gross State Product, and employing almost 5000 South Australians,” Mr Hunter said.

“While this puts South Australia in a good position, it does not mean that our economy is as circular as it could be. Products that are reused or re-manufactured retain much more of the value created during manufacturing, than if these were only recycled.”

The study was commissioned by Green Industries SA and is available at www.greenindustries.sa.gov.au/circular-economy