To understand Australia’s opportunities for a circular economy and to monitor the progress towards circularity of material supply chains there is a need to develop metrics, data and indicators that can inform policy decisions and business and government investment. A coherent set of policy indicators measuring circularity across the whole economy and for specific sectors and products will inform sustainable materials management, reflecting the adage “we can’t manage what we don’t measure”. Measurement not only allows the management of circular activities but if it is monitored effectively, we can begin to mitigate and change the undesirable impacts of a linear economy.
The global policy community and many countries including those of the European Union, the UK, Japan and China, among others, use material flow accounting approaches to measure material inputs, outputs and changes in stock within their economies. This is done to understand the level of circularity and identify priority areas that could deliver the greatest economic and environmental benefit from a transition to a circular economy. Material flow accounting, substance flow accounting and life cycle analysis can be employed at the product, business, industry, city, regional, national and global level. It can measure direct (production oriented) and indirect (consumption/footprint oriented) indicators.
The links in this section are to provide the Australian community with useful reading to start their circular metrics journey. At the business level, a range of papers reviewing measurement and associated tools are included, intended at informing and providing direction in where to start.