The Victorian Government is developing a circular economy policy and action plan for Victoria to be released late 2019. In a circular economy, people minimise waste and make the most of resources. Shifting to a more circular economy will grow the economy, increase jobs and reduce impacts on the environment.

The circular economy policy will build on Victoria’s leading waste and resource recovery initiatives and respond to global recycling market challenges. More than that, it will examine new ways for Victorian businesses and communities to reduce waste in all stages of making, using and disposing of the products and infrastructure we rely on every day.

Update on Circular Economy Policy Consultation

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent statewide Circular Economy Policy Workshop Series 2019. We held over 13 workshops across Victoria in September 2019 and heard from more than 500 Victorians about their thoughts and ideas on policy options.

The workshop series built on the issues paper online consultation we conducted in July 2019. We received more than 300 survey submissions on the issues paper and this demonstrates how strongly Victorians feel about working towards a more sustainable future and improving how we use resources and manage waste.

What now?

Your feedback is being carefully considered as we develop the circular economy policy and action plan. Later in the year we will release the final policy and consultation report. For more information about the consultation go to engage.vic.gov.au/circulareconomy.

If you have any queries email circulareconomy@delwp.vic.gov.au or phone our Circular Economy Policy Team on 136 186.

What is a circular economy?

There is no single, agreed definition of circular economy. For the purposes of this policy development, the Victorian Government has adopted the following definition:

A circular economy continually seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption and gain more productive use from natural resources.

Resource use is minimised, and waste and pollution are avoided with good design and efficient practices. This reduces environmental impacts while maintaining or increasing the value people obtain from goods and services.

Products are designed so that they are durable and can be readily repaired, reused and recycled at the end of their lives.

Business models encourage intense and efficient product use, like sharing products between multiple users, or supplying a product as a service that includes maintenance, repair and disposal.

Innovations to increase resource productivity bring a range of benefits including jobs, growth and social inclusion to local, regional and global economies.

A circular economy for Victoria diagram

The state is facing rapid population growth. As the population grows, so too will the amount of materials we use and discard. By 2046 Victoria will generate almost 60 per cent more waste than it did in 2015. This will increase pressure on our waste and resource recovery system and, without further action, may require the establishment of new or expanded landfills.

International developments also present new challenges. China’s decision to restrict the import of some low quality mixed recyclables in early 2018 destabilised global recycling markets and led to increased costs for recycling services in Victoria. This challenge is also an opportunity for Victoria to innovate and grow our domestic recycling capabilities, and build local markets for recycled materials.

In July 2018, the Victorian Government launched the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan – a $37 million blueprint to transition Victoria’s recycling system to a more resilient and sustainable model. The development of a circular economy policy and action plan was one action under the plan.

The policy will build on Victoria’s strong record of continuously improving our waste management and resource recovery capabilities. In 2015 Victoria was the first Australian state to establish a Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan. Strategies that have been delivered under that plan have established Victoria as a national leader in building markets for recovered resources. That means Victoria is in a great position to accelerate our shift to a more circular economy.

Waste to energy technologies provide an opportunity to recover waste that cannot otherwise be reused or recycled. In late 2017, the Victorian Government released Turning Waste into Energy, a discussion paper to gather views from the community and industry about how waste to energy facilities might fit in Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system.

Since the release of the discussion paper Australia has faced a new set of challenges from major shifts in global markets for recyclables. As a result, considerations around the role of waste to energy are now best included in the circular economy policy and action plan.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback during the waste to energy consultation process. This feedback will be used to inform directions within the circular economy policy.

Read the Discussion Paper

Turning Waste into Energy (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Turning Waste into Energy (DOCX, 3.1 MB)

Page last updated: 21/10/19