The City of Ballarat is calling for its local waste system to turn full circle, launching a suite of projects that will foster a new precinct of resource exchange, reuse, and local business profitability.

In a state-leading waste cycle campaign from the City of Ballarat, the Circular Ballarat Framework is setting out to reduce waste by turning it into materials that can then be used in manufacturing, rather than a linear “take-make-waste” system.

European research shows circular economies can increase economic growth by between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent annually, translating to a possible annual Gross Regional Product in Ballarat of $57-$100 million and an extra 380-680 jobs.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Daniel Moloney, said recent community consultation told Council that sustainability and the environment was of strong importance to the Ballarat community.

“Transitioning to a circular economy will also increase the profitability of local businesses and result in a healthier place for our community,” Mayor Moloney said.

“A circular economy allows us to decrease our dependence on resources such as raw materials, water and energy. It helps protect our environment, reduce waste and the emissions of greenhouse gases, and changes mindsets in relation to recycling and reuse.”

Four initiatives to launch the circular economy

The Circular Ballarat Framework will be led by four new initiatives aimed at helping businesses of all sizes through difficult COVID-19 times.

These include:

The CSIRO’s aspire (advisory stream for process innovation and resource exchange) program

An online marketplace for businesses to both sell and buy waste, diverting materials from landfill, providing cost savings and potentially creating new revenue streams. The City of Ballarat’s 12-month subscription allows any Ballarat-based business with less than 100 employees to use the platform for free until July. The City of Ballarat will also access ASPIRE data to better understand local waste streams and help attract circular economy businesses.

Circular economy ready, set, grow business growth program

Helping 20 participating businesses examine their operations through a circular lens. The program, run by Runway Ballarat, is subsidised by the City of Ballarat, with a $300 participants co-contribution.

Circular Ballarat: detail materials flow analysis and end market opportunities

The City of Ballarat is undertaking a detailed regional material flows analysis to better understand what resources are used in our economy, where resources are sourced, what they are used to do, where they are consumed and how businesses manage their waste.

This project is supported by the Recycling Victoria Councils Fund and delivered by Sustainability Victoria on behalf of the State Government. In round one, 26 projects were successful and will share in more than $1.7 million in grants. City of Ballarat is partnering with Grampians Central West Waste Resource and Recovery Group on this project.

Waste to wellbeing program

The City of Ballarat has engaged Circular Economy Victoria to deliver a 12-month program designed to empower the Ballarat community and businesses to create social and economic wellbeing by using activities like reselling, reusing, sharing, repairing, and composting to add value to waste.

The project commenced in December 2021 and will engage with local community groups, start-ups, small and medium enterprises, corporate businesses, and City of Ballarat work groups to map activities that are already occurring in Ballarat.

Once the existing ecosystem is known, the project will then identify gaps and opportunities and develop a business case to expand local solutions that add value to waste. The final project report will be completed by October 2022.

 

Next steps for the circular Ballarat framework

The next phase of the Circular Ballarat Framework will focus on enhancing sustainability outcomes from procurement policies by:

∞ Reviewing and updating mechanisms to understand and consider real environmental costs when evaluating projects, contracts, and services
∞ Achieving better sustainability outcomes by improving the way the City of Ballarat’s implements sustainability features in its Procurement Policy
∞ Constructing more sustainable infrastructure through design, alternative materials use and technology innovation

The City of Ballarat is also tackling its waste management challenge head-on with a plan to develop a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that will help keep 10,000 tonnes of valuable recyclables out of Ballarat’s landfill each year.

A Materials Recovery Facility will sort recyclables into separate streams of plastics, cardboard, aluminium, and paper, so they can be remanufactured into useful new products.

The City of Ballarat is also seeking government support to create a Circular Economy Precinct, anchored by the MRF, in the Ballarat West Employment Zone.

“We have businesses wanting to invest $270 million plus in a Circular Economy Precinct at the Ballarat West Employment Zone and we expect more investment when the precinct is up and running,” Mayor Moloney said.

“Infrastructure like the Materials Recovery Facility allows us to attract businesses which want to co-locate so they can use the plastics, paper, metals and cardboard it sorts.

“This project will provide more local jobs and maximise the benefits to our economy. The number of jobs involved in material reprocessing is a lot higher than in dumping waste in landfill.

“From inception, about 32 per cent of the materials sorted at the facility will be able to be used by recyclers and remanufacturers locally. This project also solves a problem for the Victorian Government as it aligns perfectly with State Government recycling policy.

“With a processing capacity of around 30,000 tonnes per year, the Materials Recovery Facility will have enormous potential to service much of western Victoria.”

For more information on Circular Ballarat and its projects, visit www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/business/circular-ballarat

Further information on the Materials Recovery Facility and the Circular Ballarat Precinct at the Ballarat West Employment Zone can be found at www.ballarat.vic.gov.au/mrf

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