Driving a circular economy through education, innovation and action

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    In an era of “fake news,” growing climate change concern and an increasingly connected global community, organisations must play a leading role in engaging and informing citizens of today’s environmental issues, while inspiring them with the exciting solutions being delivered each day.

    For more than 165 years Veolia, a leading global environmental solutions provider with operations in 48 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, has been at the forefront of environmental sustainability across water, waste and energy sectors. In 2016 we referred to the “Circular Economy” extractive industrial model - a concept departing from the traditional linear economy (make, use and dispose), to a model where maximum value is gained by using and re-using resources.

    While industry leaders, in collaboration with Veolia, have implemented circular economy principles for some time - Seqwater, Austral Bricks and Springvale Mount Piper Power Station, to name a few - the exciting news is the concept is gaining attention more broadly. Inspiring stories emerging from the likes of McDonald’s, Ikea and Sunshine Coast University are pushing this concept in front of a new audience – the public.

    So, just how important is the link between education and innovation in delivering a circular economy, and what are we doing at Veolia to help drive this?

    Earlier this year, Veolia introduced its Rethinking Sustainability campaign, a concept borne out of the need to simplify concepts like sustainability and the circular economy. It uses virtual reality to encourage the community to rethink their everyday habits by showing them how their household waste is being transformed into a new resource at Veolia’s Mechanical Biological Treatment facility in Goulburn, NSW. Opened in 2017, the facility’s environmental goal is to help 11 Sydney councils meet their targets to divert 70 per cent of waste away from landfill by 2021.

    In a recent interview with Waste Management Review Ben Sullivan, NSW Group General Manager, said of the educational campaign: “It’s really leveraging the social change we’ve seen in recent time around environmental awareness with programs like War on Waste.” 

    Perhaps it’s no coincidence the timing of this article coincides with the lead up to the ABC’s hugely anticipated War on Waste program. It’s grabbed the attention of media and the public alike as it has uncovered Australia’s waste habits and the impact the growing volume of waste is having on our environment. 

    Similarly, the impact of plastic pollution on marine life and waterways has reached alarming new levels, prompting global action and discourse. This year’s World Environment Day provided a platform to mobilise global communities in the fight against plastic pollution with the campaign slogan “If you can’t reuse it, refuse it”, pushing the circular economy message further abroad.

    Today, 80% of pollution in seas and oceans come from land sources, impacting ecosystems and 60% of the world's population that live near the coast. Veolia is proud to be working with local authorities, businesses and citizens around the world to research and deliver tangible solutions to combat pollution from land sources and transform it into resources.

    It’s one of the many ways we are helping to resource the world.

    To find out more about what we are doing, visit our Living Circular blog or visit the Veolia website.

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