Circular economy

banner with family sitting in veggie patch

Find out more about the Draft Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 

What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is a shift away from the traditional (and unsustainable) system of take-make-use-waste.

Instead it involves transitioning to a more sustainable circular system that focuses on avoiding waste and keeping valuable resources in use for as long as possible.

A circular economy helps people manage materials responsibly, reusing materials more effectively rather than simply ‘consuming’ them, whilst still enabling sustainable economic growth.

We can see this new way of defining traditional waste systems across the world, and it has a range of social, economic and environmental benefits including

  • reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
  • reducing costs
  • protecting and regenerating our natural environment.

Council’s role

Council is a large consumer of goods, materials and services and therefore has a key role to play in supporting and driving the circular economy through its own operations like purchasing decisions and supporting markets for recycled materials.

We’re off to a good start through programs that reduce waste to landfill, maximise resource recovery and transition to circular systems.

To be successful in our transition, we need all sectors of the community to take action, from all levels of government through to businesses, residents, visitors and industry.

Benefits of a circular economy

  • Avoiding the extraction of raw materials
  • Reducing the need for landfills

  • Avoiding and reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with material extraction, production and manufacturing, waste treatment and waste disposal

  • Protecting biodiversity

  • Financial savings

  • Creating and supporting skilled jobs

  • Strengthening localised supply chain networks

  • Connecting community and enhancing community resilience

Overall, a circular economy is a resilient and environmentally sustainable system that brings triple bottom line benefits for businesses, the community and the environment.

Drivers for the transition to a circular economy

There are a wide range of federal and state policies, strategies and initiatives, and local drivers for transitioning to a circular economy including:

  • Significantly increasing costs associated with waste management services.

  • The need to comply with government waste reforms eg. Recycling Victoria – a new Economy 2020.

  • Imminent landfill closures - Anglesea landfill closure (2027) and Drysdale landfill closure (2030).

  • Major population growth leading to increased waste and pressure on waste infrastructure – with a 50% increase in population expected in the region by 2041.

Local community circular economy in action

The Surf Coast Shire community is passionate and actively engaged in activities to reduce waste, maximise resource recovery and protect the environment. There are many local examples of circular economy projects and community groups including:

• Anglesea Transfer Station Resale Shed

• Surf Coast Repair Café

• Lorne Goes Plastic Free

• Plastic Wise Torquay

• Plastic Wise Winchelsea

• Rubbish Rangers

• Feed Me Surf Coast

• Surf Coast Energy Group

• Various community battery drop-off collection points

• Toy libraries in Anglesea, Lorne, Torquay and Winchelsea

• Bulk food stores across the region

• Online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace

• Various local businesses focused on making the most of recycled materials e.g. Patagonia

History: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation in the UK founded this concept, describing the circular economy as a system where materials are kept in use for as long as possible, avoiding waste and regenerating nature. Waste and pollution are avoided through smart design. And through processes of maintenance, reuse, repair, refurbishment, remanufacture, recycling, and composting, valuable resources are kept in use for as long as possible at their highest value. Waste does not exist in a circular economy. Materials once considered ‘waste’ become recognised as resources and are retained in the system.