New Circular Economy Roadmap Could Triple Jobs

New Circular Economy Roadmap Could Triple Jobs

The CSIRO’s new circular economy roadmap has been released, providing Australia with a roadmap toward both a more profitable and sustainable future, with triple the job numbers, according to the agency. 

The CSIRO has published its National Circular Economy Roadmap, providing industry and government leaders with valuable insight into the new-found opportunities of both recycling and a circular economy. 

The roadmap has provided six key areas in which a circular economy should be created, for both economic benefits, job numbers, and of course, the environmental benefits of recycling as a circular economy. 

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  • Retain material through use and collection
  • Upscale and innovative recycling technologies
  • Innovation and collaboration in design and manufacture
  • Develop markets for secondary materials and the products that use them
  • Streamline nationally consistent governance
  • Secure a national zero-waste culture

The release of the report is particularly timely, considering that China has banned imports of recyclable waste to be processed on its shores, which has led governments worldwide to seek other recycling solutions. 

The CSIRO says that its new circular economy roadmap could triple job numbers in the sector, and add billions to the gross domestic product of Australia. This would be achieved through a focus on “reclaiming billions in economic value from plastic, glass, paper and tyres currently going into landfill.” 

Not only that, the CSIRO also says that if Australia were to increase its recycling rate by just 5%, the benefits would extend to a more than $1 billion increase of Australia’s GDP figure. Authors state that “the Australian government’s ban on the export of waste last year creates an opportunity for a new circular economy strategy that turns landfill into economic returns.”

This too, extends to job numbers, according to the agency.  

The CSIRO says that as it stands, Australia creates 2.8 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste that is processed in landfill. This is significantly lower than the purported 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste that are set to be created if Australia increases its recycling rates. 

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LOST TO LANDFILL: The hidden gems in our waste

  • Plastic – $419M: Australia loses $419 million every year by not recycling PET and HDPE plastics.
  • Paper – $115M: Cost savings from sending paper fibre to landfill is around $70 per tonne. With 1,642 kilotonnes sent to landfill each year, that’s $115 million.
  • Lithium – $2.5B: Sending lithium from batteries to landfill results in a lost economic opportunity of up to $2.5 billion by 2036.
  • Litter – $70M: Australia spent $70 million cleaning up dumped waste in 2016–17.


The CSIRO’s Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshal has said that science and technology are set to underpin the next wave of economic growth in the waste management sector. 

“Australia is among the world’s best in advanced manufacturing and environmental research, and that unique science can turn industry and environment into partners by making sustainability profitable,” Dr Marshall said. 

“Science can transform our economy into a circular one that renews and reuses what we previously discarded, and indeed a virtuous circle that creates higher paid jobs, advances new Australian technology and protects our environment.” 

“We’re on a mission to make it real,” he added. “The practical path laid out in this roadmap is part of CSIRO’s mission-led focus on using science to solve our greatest challenges while driving our economic recovery and building future resilience.” 

The CSIRO is aiming to provide a map that takes Australia to reducing average waste per person by 10% in the next decade, with the overarching goal of achieving an 80 per cent average resource recovery rate from all waste by 2030. 

The project’s leader, Dr Heinz Schandl has said that the Federal Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources commissioned the circular economy roadmap, and has been developed in collaboration with 83 industry and research bodies. 

Key amongst their focus was an attention to reshaping Australia’s economy into a more circular model, as well as providing economic growth and employment opportunities. 

Dr Schandl said that “our traditional ‘take-make-dispose’ consumption pattern is hitting two walls: ever-more-expansive primary materials, and ever-more-unacceptable ways of dealing with waste.” 

“The global pandemic has disrupted global supply chains which challenges Australia to be self-sufficient with sovereign manufacturing capability.” 

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