The City of Ballarat is a regional municipality in Victoria and is home to 113,725 people.
Moving to a circular economy would result in an estimated annual increase in Ballarat’s GDP of $60-$105 million and 460-800 extra jobs.
The council has developed a Circular Economy Framework to assist in meeting their targets of 100% carbon neutrality for council operations by 2025 and 100% circularity by 2050.
The City of Ballarat, located on the traditional lands of the Wadawurrung and DjaDja Wurrung People, is a regional municipality located just over one hour north-west of Melbourne and is home to 113,725 people. ‘balla’ meaning ‘elbow’ or ‘reclining on the elbow’ and ‘arat’ meaning ‘place’: from two Aboriginal words signifying a camping or resting place.
Ballarat has been on a journey for more than 10 years to build a commitment and capacity towards a circular economy right from building an Environment Sustainability Strategy and Waste Policy in 2007 to forming its Circular Economy Framework in 2020.
Here, Siobhan Dent, Circular Economy Coordinator at the City of Ballarat, shares the circular model and vision in the Ballarat region and their plans for a carbon-neutral future.
“We are an engaged city having conversations about managing waste and protecting our natural assets, in the context of rapid global change and concern for the planet’s sustainability. We see our future as a carbon-neutral city and a leader in renewable energy systems, with thriving collaboration across industries, systems and business models to secure our future sustainably and protect our planet."
“Through recent Ballarat Prosperity Framework consultation, our community told us that the future of Ballarat is based on a strong circular economy. Moving to a CE will offer a variety of economic, social and environmental benefits to Ballarat’s residents and businesses."
"Research from Europe shows that moving to a circular economy could increase economic growth by 0.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent every year. This would mean an annual increase in Ballarat’s GDP of $60-105million and 460-800 extra jobs."
"The City of Ballarat has an ambitious plan to become a 100% circular economy by 2050."
Adopting a circular model offers so many opportunities to local councils and their community, which is fantastic but can also be daunting. My advice to other councils would be to find the areas and people in council that are passionate and motivated about developing and implementing circular initiatives and find out what makes sense for your council and community and start with that.
"We are committed to leading the way in environmental sustainability, continuously seeking ways to actively reduce our impact. The Circular Ballarat Framework provides the strategic direction for the City of Ballarat’s circular economy program:
Our projects include:
Ready, Set, Grow! Circular Economy Business Development Program – An intensive short-term program subsidised by the City of Ballarat to help businesses look at their operations with a circular lens and identify circular opportunities. Seven local businesses participated in the first phase with three businesses continuing through to the second phase further developing circular business opportunities.
We also received great feedback on this program from our participants who said, ‘The program was more than just the circular economy - it also taught me business skills,’ and ‘I am still connected with some of the participants….allowing us to explore even more ways to integrate circular economy principles into our business.’
Council-wide ASPIRE Subscription – An online marketplace for businesses to exchange their waste as a resource. ASPIRE allows businesses to have unlimited resource listings, so they can sell excess waste materials online and build relationships with buyers and sellers. This in turn diverts excess waste resources from landfill and creates new revenue streams.
Access to the ASPIRE platform is free for all Ballarat businesses with 20 or fewer employees. There are currently more than 70 local businesses registered on the platform.
Material Flow Analysis (MFA) – We partnered with Grampians Central West Waste Resource Recovery Group with support from the Victorian Government via the Recycling Victoria Council Fund to undertake an MFA and an assessment of end-market opportunities for materials recovered from Ballarat and the wider Grampians Central West (GCW) region.
The study has improved our knowledge of the waste resources in the region and the end-market opportunities that exist or could be created in our region.
This study was a fundamental step for us as we continue to investigate the feasibility of establishing a Circular Economy Precinct in Ballarat. The Precinct will be made up of businesses and associated infrastructure that are focused on maximising the value from the region’s waste materials, creating both economic and environmental benefits.
Waste to Wellbeing Project - The City of Ballarat partnered with Circular Economy Victoria to deliver a 12-month program focused on empowering Ballarat community and business stakeholders to create social and economic well-being for themselves and their communities by using activities like reselling, reusing, sharing, repairing and composting to add value to waste. The project consisted of –
Ecosystem mapping identifying over 170 stakeholders in Ballarat and the region who are either working on or have opportunities for circular activity. It also identified that there are 41 existing activities in the higher order R types (Reuse, Share, Repair, Refurbishment).
Developing the local waste valorisation network to facilitate connections between existing activities. Council-led promotion supported the broader awareness of the CE and waste valorisation across Ballarat – e.g. Council produced a brochure for the Ballarat Toy Library that is being distributed through the Council’s child and maternal health team.
Circular Ballarat Champions – creation of a group of 10 self-nominated locals that were passionate about progressing a local CE. This group met monthly to discuss drivers, enablers and barriers to creating a CE in Ballarat and prioritised a project diverting e-waste received at the Ballarat Transfer Station from recycling to reuse, repair and rehoming. This project will be developed and delivered in 2023.
"Developing and implementing recent business-focused circular economy initiatives has involved close collaboration between the waste and environment and economic development areas of council. These initiatives have also led to increased collaboration between council and local businesses."
"This focus of the circular projects is now being extended to council operations and infrastructure design, which is providing an opportunity to have conversations with more areas of council. Through this, we have discovered that there are already examples of circular practices being adopted in the local area, like reusing recycled asphalt from local roads in new road construction."
"As listed in our Carbon Neutrality and 100% Renewable Action Plan (2019), we have a target to achieve carbon neutrality within the City of Ballarat organisation by 2025 and will track our progress using an environmental data system and report to the council annually. The Ballarat Net Zero Emission Plan (2022) outlines an aspirational community-wide target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030. This plan was developed with extensive research and a series of stakeholder consultation workshops with industry and the business sector, environmental groups and the community. We will develop an annual list of actions to be delivered and then report on the emission savings from projects implemented each year."
"Councils are perfectly positioned to play a circular economy leadership role for their community. There may be initiatives already occurring locally but to amplify the impact we must move toward making the circular economy approach standard practice. If there are things you can do today, no matter how small, do them. While you keep working away at the bigger and more complex projects and system changes."