Event report: Circular Economy Think Tank #1 (Sydney)

NSW Circular – in partnership with the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) and the UNSW SMaRT Centre – jointly hosted the first of three sessions in its Circular Economy Think Tank Series at UNSW on 29 August.

The purpose of the series is to help develop a stronger circular economy across the region. The first workshop highlighted the opportunity for researchers, councils, designers and manufacturers to collaboratively generate new ways of thinking about resources.

Circular Economy Think Tank #1: Materials Flow Deep Dives

Venue: UNSW Sydney, Business School Lounge, Level 6 Business School Building E12, Kensington

Description

Hosted by SSROC, NSW Circular and UNSW Sydney, with a welcome by SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall and a presentation by Professor Veena Sahajwalla, this four-hour session was facilitated by Rodger Watson of ThinkPlace.

It was attended by more than 30 representatives from southern Sydney councils and other stakeholders from across local manufacturing, design, resource and charity sectors.

The first in a series of three think tanks, the aim of this co-hosted event was to:

  • Catalyse innovation that will lead to waste avoidance and an increase in reuse and resource recovery
  • Bring together stakeholders from SSROC councils, NSW Circular, UNSW Sydney and the design, manufacturing, resource and charity sectors
  • Establish collaborative ways of working, progress understanding and learn from like-minded organisations.

Speakers

  • Namoi Dougall, General Manager SSROC
  • Professor Veena Sahajwalla, NSW Circular Director
  • Rodger Watson, ThinkPlace (facilitator)
  • Annie Walker, SSROC
  • Anne Prince, A. Prince Consulting

Outcome and next steps

The workshop highlighted the opportunity for researchers, councils, designers and manufacturers to collaboratively generate new ways of thinking about resources.

Participants explored the ‘yellow bin’ problem area by investigating its current material pathway. This pathway explored the current goals, pain points and points of satisfaction before shifting into the idea generation phase. These ideas included:

  • Incentivising consumer re-use and recycling (cashing in on recyclables, household weight watchers)
  • Mandating recycled content in products
  • Taxing materials that cannot be recycled
  • Creating a collaborative environment to innovate
  • Getting materials back to manufacturers.

Here is a comprehensive report from the day’s session. It tracks conversations, issues and new opportunities to be pursued.

These Circular Economy think tanks are designed to create, identify and progress opportunities to increase recovery and reforming of materials that are currently found in the SSROC recycling stream. The focus is on thinking differently, from multiple standpoints to deliver new solutions to problems and create new opportunities and supply chains for more sustainable outcomes.

Feedback

Participants described the day as inspiring, high energy, collaborative and practical. Other comments included:

  • The event brought a lot of energy and brought together a lot of stakeholders
  • Liked the collaborative, practical thinking
  • Lots of ideas and a variety of focus
  • Good to work together

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