Embracing circularity critical to optimising our natural resources

    By Hayley Webb  March 18th, 2024

    The latest material flow report from Australia’s peak scientific body highlights how the efficient use of our natural resources is essential to embracing circularity.

    The Australian material flow analysis to progress to a circular economy report from the CSIRO identifies material use as the largest contributor of energy consumption and emissions – highlighting its significance in addressing climate change. Optimising material use presents the greatest opportunity to reduce Australia's carbon footprint.   

    From a global perspective, the report explains the amount of material extracted and exported in Australia has obvious significant environmental impacts, but the global economic benefit is huge. The report suggests increasing the price of these exports to maximise their value and use the additional income to re-vest in our natural capital.  

    The report also highlights the biggest challenge to a circular economy in Australia is inefficient material use. Australia uses four times the materials per capita compared to the global average to meet our population needs. While there have been commendable reductions in per capita material footprint and GHG emissions since 2015, the circularity of Australia's economy currently stands at only half the global average, with 4 per cent circularity achieved in 2019.  

    The report explains how leaning into circularity will also contribute to better economic and health outcomes. By reusing and recycling goods, circularity can boost economic growth by developing local industries, creating job opportunities, and empowering communities. Despite recycling 39 million tonnes annually, nearly half of all materials collected end up in landfills. Enhancing recycling infrastructure and promoting sustainable waste management are crucial steps towards achieving higher circularity rates.  

    Housing and transport sectors represent significant opportunities for improving circularity, due to their substantial contribution to Australia's material footprint. Huge gains can be made by incorporating recycled materials in construction and promoting sustainable transport and policies should support this by focusing on optimising resource in these sectors.  

    By optimising resource usage, promoting recycling initiatives, and prioritising circular practices, Australia can build a resilient and sustainable economy by embracing circularity through collaborative efforts from government, industry and society.  

    Access the report here.  

    Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

    Hayley Webb

    After 6 years leading and developing marketing teams Hayley’s learning journey into sustainability and climate change education began and she was hooked! Being in boardrooms where sustainability wasn’t on the agenda built her passion for making sustainable business accessible for all with education that simplifys the science. When she’s not at Planet Ark Hayley is delivering Carbon Literacy Training, making Instagram reels, sourcing preloved outfits and hanging out in nature with her young family.

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