Creating a circular economy for the automotive industry

Companies around Australia are taking urgent steps to make Australia a world leader in building a circular economy. While government, industry and the public are rising to the challenge of achieving true closed loops for several recoverable resources, there are significant prospects that are yet to be unlocked.

A circular economy is a system aimed at eliminating waste through the continual use of resources. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits.

With an annual turnover of $15 billion, the waste and recycling industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy. Through building a world-class closed loop economy, this contribution could easily double in size with increased employment and strong environmental benefits.

The Australian Government’s recent $190 million Recycling Moderation Fund (RMF) will provide a much-needed boost to Australia’s resource recovery infrastructure and is a positive step towards a circular economy.

The RMF is expected to generate $600 million of recycling investment, creating 10,000 new jobs. It can also divert more than 10 million tonnes of waste from landfill, through investment in new infrastructure to sort, process, and re-manufacture materials.

“A genuine closed loop solution for materials is needed for a domestic recycling economy to thrive. We hope that the fund will encourage waste generators to take more responsibility for the materials they design and use locally sourced raw materials to further drive the domestic economy,” reports Vik Bansal, Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director.

“This injection gives the waste management industry confidence when investing in infrastructure and innovation. With this fund, governments at all levels, together with industry can invest in building a domestic circular economy.”

The Australian Parliament has also recently passed the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020. This legislation will permanently ban the export of waste – including plastics, paper and tyres – beginning 1 January 2021.

In the wake of end-of-life tyres becoming illegal to export from the end of this year, the automotive industry is forced to confront the challenge and recognise the opportunity to improve the local infrastructure to collect, process and re-use valuable recyclable materials.

Manufacturers and retailers will need to take responsibility for the products they sell once they become waste. This bill should ensure a smoother transition towards a circular economy, with manufacturers required to consider the total life cycle of their products and packaging.

To minimize the stockpiling of tyres, Australian company Green Distillation Technologies Corporation (GDTC) has achieved a world-first breakthrough by effectively recycling end-of-life vehicle tyres into saleable commodities of oil, carbon, and steel. Through a technique called destructive distillation, GDTC can convert the waste into high demand, valuable raw materials.

One GDTC tyre recycling plant can process about 685,000 tyres per year (assuming an average mix of car and truck tyres). This equates to approximately 17,000 tonnes of recycled car tyres, being transformed into oil, carbon, and steel.

The opportunity to lead the world in creating a circular economy has an abundance of benefits: boosting employment, productivity gains, innovation, and a reduced ecological footprint.

Cleanaway have created a short five-minute video that goes through their recycling process:


Cleanaway | Creating a circular economy key to Australia’s future

GDTC | Home

5 January 2021

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