Bundling up your soft plastic bags and wrappings to take back to the supermarket for recycling might seem like a simple task, but when they emerge reborn as part of a road or park bench, they become a vital component of the circular economy.
A circular economy reduces waste and keeps resources in use longer. It’s about moving away from the linear approach of ‘make, use and dispose’ to a more sustainable circular approach where we remake and reuse.
This approach increases the value of our resources by ensuring fewer materials are used and less waste is generated, which in turn reduces landfill waste, greenhouse gas production, pollution and biodiversity loss.
Australian businesses and organisations are turning their manufacturing capability and supply chains to ‘closing the circle’. One company is ‘upcycling’ plastic milk bottles into plastic shopping baskets and trolleys. Another has developed plastic railway sleepers using agricultural waste and polystyrene, and another targets single-use plastic by delivering cleaning and other products to homes in containers made from ‘ocean waste’ plastic, which customers return to be cleaned and refilled.
The Victorian Government recently launched its circular-economy policy Recycling Victoria, with a 10-year plan that directs local government actions. Its plan includes standardising kerbside bins and accepted materials, introducing FOGO (food organics and garden organics) kerbside collections, introducing a separate fourth bin for glass collections, and rolling out a container deposit scheme. It also aims to support manufacturers to make new products using recycled materials, and expand waste-to-energy initiatives for material that can’t be recycled.
We can all play a role in bringing more circular thinking into how we manage our waste and consumption at home. This includes buying items that are
reusable or contain recycled content, buying second-hand items, visiting a repair cafe, and ensuring you are putting only the correct items in your bins. Our handy A to Z guide can help.