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We’re talking rubbish at the 2023 Circular Economy Impact Forum

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4 May 2023

It’s time to seriously talk rubbish. We produce almost three tonnes of waste per capita in Australia according to the latest annual figures of the 2022 National Waste Report, and that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands of extra tonnes generated by last year’s devastating flooding across the country.

Businesses and local government are playing an important part, from sustainable packaging to collection services and the adoption of circular economy policy on multiple levels, but our overall resource recovery (which is mostly recycling) sat at just 63 per cent in 2021, largely stagnant since the 2016-2017 figure of 61 per cent. In some categories, like plastic, it sat at a dismal 13 per cent. The rest went into landfill. [For complete statistics, see the 2022 National Waste Report].

“When it comes to waste, globally, we’re doing good things in some areas but it’s not enough,” says international expert Professor Linda Godfrey, keynote speaker at the upcoming Southern Cross University Impact Forum on Circular Economy.

“There’s this misnomer that the circular economy is about waste management, or worse, a synonym for recycling. The circular economy really allows us to rethink our relationship with resources more broadly, including waste. When it comes to resource use, we need to use less, we need to use longer, we need to use again, and we need to make clean, if we are to manage the future resource risks facing communities, businesses and countries.

“While recycling and waste beneficiation are critical to this, we know that we are not going to recycle our way out of the problems facing us today.”

Other speakers include:

  • Kathy Giunta Director, Circular Economy Programs at NSW Environment Protection Authority
  • Lisa McLean CEO at Circular Australia
  • Yas Grigaliunas Founder & Chief Evangelist at Circonomy
  • Luke McConell Managing Director at Revolve Your World
  • Kevin Trustum Manager of Commercial Services (Waste Strategy) at Lismore City Council
  • Shane Ramsey Director at Centre for Regenerative Design & Collaboration (CRDC)
  • Craig Bagnall Director, Environment and Regulatory at SEATA
  • Kim Potter Economic Development Manager, Regional Development and Programs at Department of Regional NSW
  • Connor Clarke Founder at Plastics Pirate
  • Russ Martin CEO at Global Product Stewardship Council, Director of MS2
  • Dr Helen Lewis Adjunct Professor, Institute Sustainable Futures
  • Dr Owen Hogan – Lecturer and Course Coordinator, Faculty of Business, Law and Arts at Southern Cross University
  • Professor Dirk Erler Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University and part of the ReCirculator team

Southern Cross University Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche said the Impact Forum will facilitate important conversations and connections to progress circular economies.

“Southern Cross is deeply committed to delivering research with real impact. We are doing this through our Research Impact Clusters, where we target known challenges – such as achieving zero waste – and apply our knowledge and expertise in partnership with government and industry in order to create solutions,” he said.

Southern Cross University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Academic Capability) Professor Mary Spongberg said the University is a circular economy research powerhouse.

“The University’s research in this field is going from strength to strength. Our government-funded Recirculator Program is supporting the implementation of circular economies in the Northern Rivers, while our Zero Waste research cluster aims to develop solutions for our global waste problem,” Professor Spongberg said.

“It is wonderful to see this knowledge being shared with local business and community members through the Impact Forum.”

The Impact Forum is hosted by Southern Cross University’s Live Ideas, which aims to transform ideas into impact, collaborating with industry, community, researchers and educators to activate their ideas and create positive change. Investment NSW has funded this initiative through the Boosting Business Innovation Program.

Media contact: Live Ideas