In the Northern Territory, waste management and recycling is a major challenge. The circular economy is an opportunity to create thriving local industry and reduce our impact on the environment.
There's a plastic waste crisis happening in Australia. On top of that, the Territory currently has a lower recycling rate than other Australian regions. Most recyclables, such as plastics, glass and cardboards, are extremely expensive to ship east or south for processing.
The economic levers that determine how much investment goes into local waste management are complicated, especially in Alice Springs. However since several countries banned waste exports 3 years ago, fuelling the waste crisis, developing industry around a circular economy is a great opportunity in the Northern Territory.
Facilities to recycle and create new products from old materials will create more local job opportunities and help keep waste out of landfill and away from our pristine desert environment.
What is the circular economy?
The circular economy is about changing the way we produce, assemble, sell and use products to minimise waste, and to reduce our environmental impact. Products, resources and materials are kept circulating for as long as possible, extracting their greatest value.
The capacity of the global ecosystem to absorb the growing amount of waste is limited. The climate crisis also means we need to rapidly decrease the amount of waste and emissions we produce.
By swapping the focus on waste management to innovation in the circular economy, we can divert waste from landfill and create local jobs and a thriving, profitable industry focused on resource recovery and re-use.
In the Northern Territory, some waste smart opportunities are:
- Plastics recycling facilities to turn plastics into value added products like bollards or pipes
- Tyre processing facilities to transform car and truck tyres into products like soft fall rubber playgrounds
- RoadMap to a desertSMART Town section on Waste, pp.20-24
- A circular economy roadmap for plastics, tyres, glass and paper in Australia by CSIRO
The Tipping Point. An ABC Australian Story episode about scientist and recycling superstar Veena Sahajwalla