Auckland could be $8.8 billion better off in 2030, if it installed the circular economy

Auckland could be $8.8 billion better off in 2030, if it installed the circular economy.jpg

TV and radio coverage greeted the release of a new SBN report last Thursday. The first of its kind study in NZ found that Auckland could be billions of dollars better off in 12 years' time with much lower carbon emissions if we have shifted to the circular economy.

The Circular Economy Opportunity for Auckland was produced in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) with support from Fuji Xerox NZ, Junk Runk, 3R Group and Inzide Commercial. The economic analysis was carried out by Sapere Research Group. It draws on research from overseas and applies it to the Auckland economy, focusing on food, transport and the built environment. It is inspired by similar work done in London and Glasgow, where circular economy thinking is forming the basis for policy settings and business innovation.

The report suggests the opportunity ranges from $0.8-$8.8 billion. Further analysis of data from the three key sectors in Auckland indicates a range of $6.3 -$8.8 billion benefit to the economy – towards the upper end of the initial estimation.

In a circular economy the lifecycles of all materials are maximised. The use of those materials is optimised.  At the end of a product’s life all materials are reutilised. This requires a redesign of the current systems of extraction, production and disposal to ensure natural and technical resources stay in discreet systems or 'loops'. Natural materials are composted or otherwise safely returned to the natural environment. In a circular economy products are designed in such a way that these can be easily separated, along with technical resources like plastics and metals that are returned to cycles of production and reuse.

James Griffin leads SBN’s work on the circular economy.

He said: “The circular economy is inevitable. It is the only viable model for meeting the needs of a growing population within environmental boundaries. Applying circular economy thinking to Auckland will install environmental and economic resilience into the city. It will trigger a new era of business innovation. It will radically reduce the costs of our economic activity and the material inputs it requires. The only question is: how fast can we go?”

Patrick McVeigh is general manager Business, Innovation and Skills for ATEED.

He said:  “Auckland with its innovative, entrepreneurial business culture has the opportunity to position itself as a circular economy city for the world. The circular economy represents new business opportunities in growing global markets including new business models in transport, waste to value opportunities in the food sector and the re-use of construction materials.

“Auckland businesses pursuing process and product innovations that reflect circularity will create new forms of value, open up new markets and support sustainable growth by reducing reliance on finite resources.”

Eugenie Sage is Associate Environment Minister.

She said: “This work is an important contribution towards seeing the value of a circular economy. We need to stop thinking that recycling is the answer to our waste problems. Actually producing less waste in the first place is better for the environment and our country. That will require a significant change to people’s behaviour, but we need to reduce the resources and waste used to create a product. It makes sense financially and environmentally to buy products that are made to last longer and can be repaired or be refurbished.

“Designing waste and pollution out of the system makes for a more sustainable society for future generations of New Zealanders. It creates long-term cost savings and more local job opportunities, encourages technical innovation, and reduces the amount of harmful waste produced, which in turn helps reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Other key findings from the report:

In 2030:

  • Adopting enhanced methods of construction could yield $2.5 billion. This includes that include more reuse and high value recycling, industrialised processes and 3D printing, as well as designing for multi-purpose use
  • Reducing food waste, and finding more commercial use for it for biogas or animal feed could yield $0.3 billion
  • Encouraging ride sharing, refurbishing commercial vehicles and reducing congestion could yield $1.8 billion

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