Improving productivity by reducing costs and enhancing the value of waste outputs.

The Northern Rivers Regional Circular Economy Accelerator

The ReCirculator program is a $2 million Federal Government-funded initiative forming part of the Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF).

Designed to act as an independent broker, The ReCirculator will support information exchange, research and technology implementation to accelerate the adoption of circular economy principles in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW.

This will involve conducting, publishing and facilitating world-leading research to enable adoption of circular economy principles in the NSW Northern Rivers region.

Professor Dirk Erler standing in front of machinery

“The difficulty for industry lies in not having the capacity to really test processes and techniques. Recirculator solves that by testing and evaluating new waste management processes that deliver economic, social, and environmental gain.”

Led by Southern Cross University, ReCirculator is a research hub and technology brokerage that connects NSW Northern Rivers businesses in a circular economy ecosystem of cutting-edge technology. It acts as an economic growth driver by:

  • saving costs
  • improving productivity
  • regenerating resources
  • creating resilient jobs.

Aiming to help local businesses to enhance their efficiency by adopting circular economy principles that:

  • identify the composition of their waste streams and any materials and energy that could be recovered from it
  • combine wastes from compatible partners to create commercially marketable outputs and/or products, and
  • identify, trial and optimise technological solutions to waste reuse and recovery, and assist with their uptake on a commercial scale.

To do this, The ReCirculator will:

  • provide access to the technical facilities and expertise of Southern Cross University and its research partners for waste characterisation, testing of resource recovery potential, plus piloting and optimising suitable technology before commercial adoption
  • provide techno-economic modelling expertise to identify and apply commercially viable solutions
  • act as a trusted technology broker for industry, using links between Southern Cross University and both national and international technology and research providers, and
  • build a network between the university, industry, regulators and government to foster information sharing and technology adoption to create meaningful change

They represent a targeted approach to a common goal – a better, safer, more sustainable world. 

Benefits of a circular economy

Reduce waste and pollution

Keep products and materials in use

Create employment through products developed from waste materials

Demonstration projects

The ReCirculator is running four demonstration projects targeting significant waste streams in key Northern Rivers industries. The efficiencies established in these pilot projects are scalable, meaning they can be adapted for commercial uptake up by similar businesses in the future.

  • Project 1: Thermal treatment of waste
  • Project 2: Plastic waste –recycling into the Circular Economy
  • Project 3: Capturing nutrients from industrial wastewater
  • Project 4: Carbon accounting
  • Project 5: Waste identification and sorting

Industries supported by these pilot projects include food production and manufacturing.


Testing the quality of biogas generated through an anaerobic digester at Richmond Dairies in Casino. This gas can be used to heat and power the factory.

Recirculator equiptment 1

Collecting wastewater from the anaerobic digester at Richmond Dairies to test ways of extracting nutrients which can then be used as a fertiliser.

Recirculator equiptment 2

Casino Hide Tanners - breaks down organic pollutants in effluent, meaning it can be safely used for irrigation, rather than having to be disposed of at specialised landfills.

Recirculator equiptment 3

Using the Static Pile Inoculated Composting process at scale, this project demonstrates how composted material can improve pasture and build soil health.

Investigating alternate options for managing solid wastes

Meet the team

Professor Andrew Rose in lab

Professor Andrew Rose

Academic Director

Andrew is a career academic with a lifelong passion for science and the environment who continues to balance hands-on teaching and ongoing research projects with governance duties such as chairing SCU’s Academic Board. Andrew has been instrumental in setting up the ReCirculator, and now serves as the program’s Academic Director.

View Andrew's full profile on the Southern Cross University website

Prof Dirk Erler Recirculator

Professor Dirk Erler

Chief Investigator

Dirk Erler, the ReCirculator’s Chief Investigator, a Professor of Biogeochemistry who will focus on the remediation of liquid waste streams within the ReCirculator program. Dirk’s background is in nutrient and mineral cycling in both natural and engineered aquatic systems.

View Dirk's full profile on the Southern Cross University website

Dr Shane McIntosh

Dr Shane McIntosh

Lead Investigator in Thermal Processing

Dr Shane McIntosh has joined the ReCirculator team as Lead Investigator on Thermal Processing. Shane has research expertise in biorefining processes for waste remediation and valorisation, and has worked extensively with domestic and international industries on waste-related projects.

View Shane's full profile on the Southern Cross University website

Ernest Du Toit with plastics display II.

Dr Ernest Du Toit

Technical Manager

Ernest is an experienced process engineer who has worked in various industries including oil and gas, agriculture and biopharma. As Technical Manager, Ernest manages the ReCirculator’s technical services and liaises with existing and prospective industry partners to develop research projects through the ReCirculator.

View Ernest's full profile on the Southern Cross University website

Ms Susan Lang-Lemckert (Program Manager, ReCirculator)

Ms Susan Lang-Lemckert

Program Manager, ReCirculator

Susan comes to the ReCirculator with a background in all levels of government and a passion for communications and engagement. As Program Manager, Susan administers the ReCirculator’s day-to-day operations and is the first point of contact for all things to do with the program.

Latest news

Social says #circulareconomy

Primary school students recently visited Southern Cross’ facilities to learn about #circulareconomy principles and the University’s ReCirculator project.

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Recirculator program at local school 2022

Students eye on the future

Students from Tweed Coast primary and secondary schools took part in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) challenge at Kingscliff High School on Friday, October 28, with primary students building and racing their own miniature solar cars.

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Simon Hartley with students in community garden

New partnership set to ReCirculate plastic waste into construction material

Turning the Northern Rivers' unwanted plastics into a reusable commodity is one step closer, with Southern Cross University and CRDC Global signing a new partnership agreement.

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Ben Roche and Shane Ramsey sign partnership agreement between SCU and CRDC