Circular Economy Gets Around Gippsland

30 April 2024

Luke Wilkinson, Latrobe Valley Authority; Dr. Bryce Magnuson, Federation University; Suzanne Lewis, Latrobe Valley Enterprises; Ben Gebert, Food and Fibre Gippsland.

There's a reason Circular Economy has become such a buzz term lately. As people cotton on to the idea, more industries are adopting its practices. The term may be new to you, but you'll have heard of the concepts it represents. It's about designing out waste, reusing resources at all stages of the production cycle and keeping materials in use for longer. Circular Economy is more than just “recycling on steroids”. It's how they do it in Star Trek - everything has a use, nothing is wasted.

Companies like Patagonia have been doing it for years. Finding ways to up-cycle their products and use waste produced by other industries (such as plastic bottles) in their clothing. Patagonia have even spent money advertising NOT to buy their products because you probably have enough clothing. There's certainly enough going into landfill: each year Australians purchase on average 27kg of clothing and throw away 23kg.

Gippsland Circular Economy Hub

The LVA is pleased to be helping to set up the Gippsland Circular Economy Hub. The Hub brings together businesses, industry, community groups, government, researchers, and educators and will work together to identify and action Circular Economy projects and initiatives.

At the first forum this month, we heard from Gippsland Regional Organics about how they convert food and garden organic waste into high-value compost that is in turn used to generate more agricultural worth for Gippsland. We heard from Orbost’s Sailors Grave Brewing on how they capture and reuse CO2 in the fermentation process for their iconic artisanal brews. And Drouin-based Plasgain provided insight into how they manufacture light poles, stormwater pipes, and cable covers from melted down plastic bags.

The next Gippsland Circular Economy Hub forum, Circular Economy and Gippsland Food Manufacturing, will be held mid June – confirmed details will be included in our May newsletter.

What Goes Around – April's Gippsland Innovation Breakfast 

This month, the LVA's Director Regional Strengths Development Luke Wilkinson hosted the Gippsland Innovation Breakfast and facilitated a considered and informative discussion on Circular Economy.

Dr Bryce Magnuson from Federation University, spoke about the uses of waste in the clothing industry, whilst Suzanne Lewis from Latrobe Valley Enterprises told us how Victoria’s container deposit scheme is providing work and purpose for Gippslanders living with a disability. And Ben Gebert from Food and Fibre Gippsland shared research on how Gippsland can turn its agricultural waste into a new, valuable commodities.

In Gippsland around 120,000 tonnes of waste are landfilled annually. And it's estimated only 9% of materials are recycled globally (CSIRO 2023). This impacts our environment and health in a big way. As Gippsland heads towards a cleaner, net-zero future, we recognise that everything has a carbon cost.

If we embrace Circular Economy, eliminate waste, circulate materials, regenerate nature, we can create jobs, business, and value where there was once nothing but waste.

The Gippsland Innovation Breakfasts are a collaboration between Federation University, Regional Development Victoria and the LVA. The next breakfast, Inclusive Employment and Building Participation, will be held 21 May 2024 at the Morwell Innovation Centre. Register your interest to attend.

Pictured L-R: Innovation Breakfast speakers - Luke Wilkinson, Latrobe Valley Authority; Dr. Bryce Magnuson, Federation University; Suzanne Lewis, Latrobe Valley Enterprises; Ben Gebert, Food and Fibre Gippsland.