What is a Circular Economy?

Circular Economy in TasmaniaThere are a lot of terms and words that get referenced when the conversation turns to environmental sustainability. One of these terms that is at the centre of ReProcess Tas’s business model is the Circular Economy and how we can support its implementation into your business and its operations.

In short, the concept of a Circular Economy is the creation of a cycle of resource consumption and provision, as opposed to the traditional model of acquiring a resource, using it, and then disposing of it when no longer fit for purpose.

Globally, we consume over 100 billion tonnes of natural resources every year. That’s close to 13 tonnes of natural resource for every individual on the planet.

Here in Tasmania, we’re closer than most to the natural world around us, and as a state who, as of November 2020, operates on 100% renewable energy, we have reason to be proud of what we’re doing. However, energy consumption is only one aspect of how we can improve our ecological footprint.

Tasmania’s construction, demolition and industrial landfill footprint sits at over 250,000 tonnes per year. That’s the amount of material being “thrown out,” because it no longer provides a purpose in its existing state of being. At the same time, our natural resources are mined and quarried to provide raw material products that are used for purposes such as road base material, concreting, landscaping, pipe bedding, and more.

A circular economy removes the take - make - dispose attitude to resources, and instead transforms material into new products through recycling, reprocessing, or repurposing waste products In other words, the circular economy is a fundamentally different vision around sustainability for the industrial economy, in direct opposition to the incumbent take-make-waste linear model we have adopted by default. We take the resources needed to make a product or construction, and then dispose of the waste when it no longer suits out purposes or requirements. Importantly, sustainability describes a state we are aiming to achieve, and circular economy gives us the tools to get there.

At ReProcess Tas, we process and treat waste aggregate materials and reprocess them, providing an alternative that can be used in place of the virgin materials mentioned above. Reprocessed material is independently tested, and can often yield better results than raw material, especially around construction requirements such as compaction.

This is why we call it a circular economy: once material is in the cycle; it continues to remain there for as long as possible. Waste is reprocessed to become raw material, and the raw material is used in new constructions; sometimes, even, being returned to the same place it was taken from originally to undertake a new chapter in the story of that site!

The benefit of this is two-fold:

1. Reducing Construction and Industrial Landfill

reprocessing waste construction materials into new decorative landscaping products

Every truckload of construction waste that is repurposed is another truckload of material that is not dumped into landfill. Landfill sites do not simply hold waste materials but can be significant contributors of greenhouse gases including methane and carbon dioxide as well as harmful leachate from the breakdown of organic waste.

Landfill is also not without its own risks. There is a risk of water runoff, or leachate, polluting local water sources. Additional risks can include pests, weeds, fire, odour, and a number of other threats to the local environment. All of these landfill risks remain even after a site has been closed down.

As a state, Tasmania can only benefit by reducing our reliance and contributions to landfill, and ReProcess Tas is committed to this action, essentially creating a demand for recovered waste as a resource.

2. Reducing Natural Resource Consumption

The second side of the circular economy is the production of new material that can be used for fresh purposes. Stone, sand, concrete and other natural resources are used heavily throughout the construction industry, and the vast majority of these products are taken straight from the ground.

The benefit of reprocessed products is that it means less of these resources need to be mined or quarried. This means less impact on our natural environment, both through the reduction in resource removal, and a reduction in the energy resources necessary to acquire those products.

By establishing a facility in Tasmania that is dedicated to reprocessing construction and demolition waste into new construction products, ReProcess Tas is committing to the growth of a circular economy in Tasmania’s construction industry. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help you in building a more sustainable industry in Tasmania.