New research from Planet Ark’s Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub) has indicated that the Australian business community is developing a greater understanding of the importance of the circular economy.
According to the Circularity in Australian Business 2021: Awareness, Knowledge and Perceptions report, 88 per cent of business decision-makers surveyed agreed that the circular economy was important for the future of their business, including 34 per cent who identified the concept as extremely important. This is a significant jump from the 21 per cent who thought it extremely important in 2020.
“The first Circularity in Australian Business report clearly showed Australian businesses are motivated to transition towards a circular economy and recognise the opportunity it represents,” Planet Ark co-CEO Paul Klymenko said. “This year’s research confirms that sentiment, with over a third of respondents seeing the transition to a circular economy in Australia as extremely important. The next step is translating that willingness to change into tangible action.”
The most common benefit of the circular economy identified by business leaders was its ability to reduce costs, followed by increasing efficiency and aligning with public opinion. On the other hand, business leaders cited the most common barrier to this model being the lack of information.
Interestingly, while recognition of the importance of a circular transition is high, knowledge and understanding of what a circular economy means remain low. Most business decision-makers see it as being concerned primarily with issues of waste and recycling, with only senior executives with sustainability responsibilities able to articulate the need to redesign existing systems for the entire lifecycle of a product.
The report also noted that Australia risks becoming less competitive on the global market unless it increases the adoption of the circular economy business model, thus possibly requiring a complex system change to ensure a successful transition towards this model in Australia, starting with increased knowledge and understanding of both the concept and the benefits it can create for Australian businesses long term.
“We must work at improving linkages so that circular economy knowledge can be shared among business decision-makers,” Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said. “The key to overcoming the barriers and embracing the benefits of a circular economy is collaboration and knowledge sharing: organisations need to work together to achieve circularity. The good news is that the ACE Hub can act as a ‘transition broker’ and provide a platform for this collaboration.”