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How CSIRO plans to turn landfills into a billion-dollar industry, tripling jobs

  • January 27 2021
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How CSIRO plans to turn landfills into a billion-dollar industry, tripling jobs

By Cameron Micallef
January 27 2021

Australia’s national science agency is saving plastics, glass, paper and tyres from landfills and turning them into a billion-dollar industry that is set to triple in job creation, an official statement has revealed. 

How the CSIRO plans to turn landfill into $1bn GDP

How CSIRO plans to turn landfills into a billion-dollar industry, tripling jobs

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  • January 27 2021
  • Share

Australia’s national science agency is saving plastics, glass, paper and tyres from landfills and turning them into a billion-dollar industry that is set to triple in job creation, an official statement has revealed. 

How the CSIRO plans to turn landfill into $1bn GDP

Under the National Circular Economy Roadmap, CSIRO plans to transform the Australian economy into a “circular economy”, which would manage, reuse and recycle waste, turning landfills into economic benefits. 

The proposal could more than triple job creation from resource recovery in Australia, where the recycling sector currently generates 9.2 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of waste, compared with only 2.8 jobs for the same amount of waste sent to landfills. 

In a statement issued this week, CSIRO state Australia would only need a recovery rate of 5 per cent, to add an additional estimated $1 billion to GDP, while lowering emissions by 27 per cent. 

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall believes science and technology can drive Australia’s next wave of economic opportunities.

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“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.”

Hidden gems in Australia’s waste

According to CSIRO, Australian consumers' and businesses’ lack of awareness and understanding about transitioning to a circular economy is costing the country billions. 

As it currently stands, Australia loses out on $419 million every year by not recycling PET and HDPE plastics properly.

Broken down, the cost of sending paper fibres to landfills generates a $115 million waste, while littering is costing $70 million a year to clean up. Australia is also flushing away billions each year by sending lithium from batteries to landfills, which CSIRO plans to turn into a $2.5 billion opportunity by 2036.

According to the roadmap and partnering industries, CSIRO can create an economy that renews and reuses these products, creating higher-paying jobs, bringing forward new technology and protecting the environment in the process. 

“We’re on a mission to make it real. 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.”

Project leader Dr Heinz Schandl said the roadmap was created to shape a circular economy strategy for Australia to address fundamental environmental issues and foster regional employment.

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

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

The roadmap identifies six elements for moving towards a circular economy of plastics, paper, glass and tyres:

  1. Retain material through use and collection
  2. Upscale and innovate recycling technologies
  3. Innovate and collaborate in design and manufacture
  4. Develop markets for secondary materials and the products that use them
  5. Streamline nationally consistent governance
  6. Secure a national zero waste culture.
How CSIRO plans to turn landfills into a billion-dollar industry, tripling jobs
How the CSIRO plans to turn landfill into $1bn GDP
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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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