Circular economy

The circular economy is a new way to think about how to design, make, use and manage products and resources. It includes elements of industrial ecology, lean manufacturing, sustainable business operations and product design.

Circular economy is an economic model which seeks to decouple economic activity from the consumption of renewable and finite resources. It represents a shift away from the current linear economic model based on the ‘take-make-dispose’ approach to managing products and resources.

Moving to a circular economy can be implemented by applying three key principles:

  1. design out waste and pollution
  2. keep products and materials in use
  3. regenerate natural systems

A circular economy is underpinned by:

  • circular business models
  • systems-thinking approach
  • regional approach
  • closed-loop systems.

Why is it important?

The move to a circular economy is important because this system better recognises that many of our natural resources (for example, rare earth metals) are finite and the current linear economy generates a lot of wasted materials.

The World Economic Forum has estimated the value of a circular economy in Australia could be up to $26 billion per year by 2025 and contribute significantly to reducing our emissions.

What are some challenges?

Some of the elements we need to consider in the move to a circular economy in Queensland include:

  • up-front costs and investment
  • complex supply chains
  • full value of resources is not currently captured
  • existing and entrenched waste generation
  • cooperation and collaboration challenges.

Queensland programs

The Queensland Government recognises the positive opportunities in Queensland for economic development, jobs, emissions reductions and stronger collaboration in business. The following strategies and programs are examples of the government’s initiatives that support a circular economy in Queensland.

New Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy

This Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy provides the framework for Queensland to become a zero-waste society, where waste is avoided, reused and recycled to the greatest possible extent.


EcoBiz is helping businesses save money across their energy, water and waste bills while also reducing environmental impacts.

Circular Economy Lab

The Circular Economy Lab brought together 27 businesses together to develop commercially viable solutions to systemic waste issues, using circular economy principles. The outcomes for the Circular Economy Lab are helping to drive economic opportunity and facilitating our move to a zero waste and zero net emissions economy.