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Communities in Transition 

for Queensland Communities

Indigenous Artist - Roel Wijnants |

Lychees - CSIRO - Science Image - 2309

Lichen & street scene - Quest Media

Circular Economy

Our current economy is mostly based on the take-make-and-dispose model where we remove resources from the ground, turn them into products then dispose of the in landfill when we have finished with them.  This model loses resources to landfill and is not sustainable.

The circular economy model keeps these resources in circulation by designing products to last longer then extracting them from discarded products through actions such as recycling or waste to energy.  By re-thinking how products are made, serviced and disposed of we can make a significant steps toward sustainability. 

Quick Links
What is a circular economy?
Case studies
International Resources
What is a circular economy?

The Concept of a Circular Economy, 2012, Ellen MacArthur foundation 

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was developed to promote the uptake of Circular Economy thinking.  There is a video that gives a good summary of the change required between our current linear waste management system to a circular economy.  There are also many resources available on the circular economy.

Explainer: What is the circular economy?, 2014, Suzanne Benn and Damien Giurco

Explanation on the circular economy and the impact on and opportunities for Australia.. 

What goes around comes around - towards a circular economy,  2015, CSIRO 

Continuing along the linear waste management system will result in increasing pollution, rising metal prices and dwindling resources.  Moves towards a circular economy means not only recycling but rethinking attitudes to waste stream at all levels.

Case studies

Coreo - The Circular Experiment

Australia’s first circular economy pilot program.

Brisbane Tool Library

Australia’s first tool library to operate out of a public library was established in Brisbane in 2017.  Members pay an annual fee and are then allowed to borrow tools when they need them without purchasing them. There is also a space next to the library where workshops are held to teach skills.  There is also camping gear and sports gear leading to a circular economy of reduce consumption, waste and space.  Much of the equipment is donated by baby boomers downsizing.


Simply Cups

Takeaway coffee cups are difficult to recycle as they are a mix of paper and plastic with a different plastic lid.  Millions are being sent to landfill every year.  Simply Cups provides a collection and recycling service allowing these cups to be successfully recycled. 


Transitioning to a Circular Economy Insights from the frontline, 2017, Australia Post

Australia Post investigates its impacts and how it can move to a circular economy.

Salamander Bay Recycling Centre

Not for Profit community recycling centre upskilling and employing 9 people and reducing waste to landfill.  Profits go back into the community either through wages or charitable donations. 


Draft Waste Management Resource Recovery Strategy, 2018 Queensland Government

Draft Waste Management Resource Recovery Strategy currently open for comment (until 5 April 2019) outlines the proposed management strategy for Queensland’s waste to provide economic growth and jobs and to turn waste into a resource.  Currently there are approximately 3 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill while resource recovery has the potential to support 9 jobs per 10,000 tonnes. 


Food and Garden Organics: Best Practice Collection Manual, 2012, Prepared for the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities by Hyder

This manual provides guidance for Councils that are looking to implement a food and garden organics collection scheme including a step by step guide on how to roll out a pilot scheme and how to determine opportunities and risks for the scheme. 

Product Stewardship, Australian Department of Environment and Energy

Product stewardship is an approach of shared responsibility of producers, retailers, users and waste managers to ensure a product or material is managed in a way that reduces their impact, throughout their lifecycle, on the environment and on human health and safety.

The Australian Government administers two pieces of legislation for product stewardship: the Product Stewardship Act 2011 and the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000. It also supports the Australian Packaging Covenant, which is underpinned by the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011.



QUT researchers turning sugarcane waste into biofuel and bottles, 2019, Inside Waste

QUT have commenced a pilot program in Gladstone to prove the economic viability of turning sugarcane waste into jet and diesel fuel or chemicals that could make plastic soft drinks and beer bottles.  This project is part of the Qld Government’s Biofutures Acceleration Program.  The science of converting biomass to biofuels and biochemicals has been proven and this new pilot program aims to prove the economic viability.


The circular economy brimming with job opportunities, 2019, Poppy Johnston, The Fifth Estate

Currently there are approximately 2.8 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill or exported while resource recovery has the potential to support 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes.  Adopting a circular economy leads to more job opportunities through re-designing good to be more easily recycled and job to remanufacture used good.  Future innovation in the waste management industry is required to shift to the circular economy. 


The Guardian Circular Economy section, The Guardian

The Guardian news site has a section dedicated to circular economy articles.


Qld circular economy experiment recruits Sunshine Coast businesses,2017, Kylie Bartholomew and Annie Gaffney, ABC News

The Circular Experiment

International Resources

Towards the circular economy: Accelerating the scale-up across global supply chains, World Economic Forum

Action plan for industry leaders to join the circular economy.


WHAT IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY?, Sustainability for All

Outlines the different opportunities / stages for developing a circular economy.

What is circular economy?
Case studies
International Resources
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