UNLOCKING CIRCULAR ECONOMY SOLUTIONS IN AUSTRALIA
Author: Michael Eales, Partner and Strategy Designer at Business Models Inc.
Australia is ripe and ready for the circular economy. With issues of sustainability at the forefront of attention, there is a nationwide push to reform the current way of working to become more symbiotic - circular. November 2018 the Queensland Government launched the Queensland Circular Economy Opportunities Lab where key government and industry players will have a platform to connect and collaborate alongside leading startups and subject matter experts, with the common goal of identifying opportunities for the circular economy to be unlocked and invested in.
The Circular Economy Opportunities Lab is powered by Business Models Inc, The Circular Experiment and seeded by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science. The Lab is an exciting initiative to be a part of, and Madaster is proud to be a founding member of the Lab, with the future-focused goal of a ‘soft launch’ in April. Madaster’s unique proposition of a global online register for materials and products in the built environment is an excellent contribution to the Lab. In particular Madaster’s transparent organisation model, where independent public governance is combined with social entrepreneurship, inspires Business Models Inc to facilitate the roll out for Madaster in Australia through the Circular Economy Opportunities Lab.
The circular economy is not a novel concept in Australia however, in recent years, the conversation around how ‘circular’ principles will show up has gained significant traction. These principles are increasingly informing policy and shifting business models of those who identify the imperative need to innovate for the future. This momentum, as with many other nations, was driven by the challenges associated with ‘waste’, particularly as global pressures on recycling and resource recovery continue to mount (literally). Yet eliminating waste in the material sense is just one aspect of the circular economy - this is also a conversation about unlocking the substantial economic advantages of the circular shift.
Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp is an advocate of the circular economy and participated as a speaker this year at the World Circular Economy Forum, tackling the role of technology in the sustainable future. Kemp champions this objective across Queensland and most recently highlighted the transformative potential of circular solutions in the Queensland economy at the Brisbane City Council event, Brisbane Innovate.
“The extraction and processing of raw materials create problems for the environment, climate and sustainability. Through shared vision, technological enablement and tracking, and your involvement, we can truly anchor to key UN Sustainable Development goals on Energy Use Reduction, Poverty Alleviation, and Reducing Water Use,” says Kemp.
The objective of the Queensland Circular Economy Opportunities Lab, is to create a pathway for ‘circular’ ideas and projects to move from opportunity to action. By bringing together a strong cohort of leaders, the Lab flips the traditional process for collective action, which assumes we need to bring a shared vision into existence before we can act. Instead, through focusing on opportunities, participating organisations use the Lab to run experiments and gain useful insights. The vision is then identified, clarified and realised.
Informed by our work at Business Models Inc globally over the past decade, the Circular Economy Opportunities Lab is a new approach to bringing multiparty innovation to life. Its success depends on industry leading the change and is supported by an innovative Government backed program, including Australia’s first Circular Seed Fund that will support the commercialisation pathway of each underlying project. It is this collaborative culture that underpins the potential impact of opportunities identified during the Lab.
"The Circular Economy Opportunities Lab encourages people to collaborate, to shape opportunities for investment together and be more disruptive. This is needed now more than ever," urges Ashleigh Morris, CEO, The Circular Experiment.
Business Models Inc is a global strategy, design and innovation agency headquartered in Amsterdam, so it is in our DNA to think globally and act locally. In Australia, our mission is to create and pursue actionable opportunities that have a real impact. We look forward to introducing and further developing Madaster in Queensland together with the Queensland Government and innovative industry leaders.