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New South Wales Innovation Network launched

In Australia, a new innovation network recently launched by the New South Wales (NSW) government will bring together government, industry, and researchers in a "drive to create" a circular economy. The Circular Economy Innovation Network, or NSW Circular, was officially launched on October 9, 2019, by NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.

The Circular Economy Innovation Network, or NSW Circular, was officially launched on October 9, 2019, by NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes (photo courtesy NSW Circular/UNSW).

NSW Circular will be hosted by the University of New South Wales and led by Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at the university. The innovation network will be funded through the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and will work towards enhancing sustainability and creating a circular economy.

Through a series of workshops, it will bring together stakeholders across the industry, government, local councils, research organisations, and the community. Minister Stokes highlighted there was a need for manufacturing to evolve in the post-China Sword era.

With China no longer accepting our recycled waste, our manufacturing industry must evolve. This is our chance to bring more jobs back to our own backyard, particularly in the Special Activation Precincts in regional NSW, said Minister Stokes.

On top of workshops for stakeholders, the network will also provide tools and resources to help solve problems, encourage innovation and deliver socio-economic benefits, such as employment.

There are currently three pilot projects underway to divert waste from landfills and create new supply chains to turn waste into materials for manufacturing and valuable products.

Creating new solutions

Professor Sahajwalla looks forward to working with stakeholders to ensure that NSW leads the way in this area.

By working with and bringing together the many groups wanting better waste and recycling outcomes, which importantly includes those involved in materials recycling science, we are creating new solutions and a circular economy where we reuse and keep materials in use for as long as possible said Professor Sahajwalla in a statement.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said NSW Circular will complement other government initiatives, such as the Government’s 20-Year Waste Strategy and Plastics Plan and help “develop the programs we need to increase recycling and create a circular economy.”

There is a lot of activity in this space, but to date, it has lacked a degree of coordination and connectivity. There are many good ideas, but the sector hasn’t always been able to establish pathways to market. The network board brings extensive experience with business, industry, and Government in designing and implementing circular economy programs and will support the team in identifying new opportunities, said Professor Emeritus Margaret Harding, NSW Circular Board Chair.

The NSW Circular Economy Innovation Network or “NSW Circular” is a new innovation network recently launched
by the New South Wales (NSW) government and hosted by the University of New South Wales aims to bring together government, industry, and researchers in a “drive to create” a circular economy (photo courtesy NSW Circular/UNSW).

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