If we aim to ‘value materials at their highest level’, then metals pose a number of intriguing challenges. Can we truly slow down the ‘take > make > dispose’ linear approaches for mined resources, and increasingly circulate these complex and valuable material flows? What needs to be done to achieve the many shifts that would enable this to happen?
Australia’s role as a global leader in the primary production of metals and minerals puts pressure on businesses and governments to anticipate and adapt to the future economy. What role do our traditional industries have in this space? How do we leverage their depth and breadth of experience and know-how with these materials?
Modern society is deeply dependent on metals. They are essential materials for products and infrastructure in transport, food production, housing, water treatment, and energy generation. Leading researchers from the Australian Wealth from Waste project discuss 'mining' above ground resources to develop a Circular Economy for metals in Australia. Metals contained in stocks of discarded manufacturing products and consumer goods were mapped and opportunities for ‘urban mining’ were revealed. These include enablers for e-waste collection, and modelling of viable business opportunities that will drive the transition to a circular metals economy.
This is the eighth of 13 short videos from the Powering the Change to a Circular Economy conference, brought to you by DIF 2017 collaborators Loop Circular Economy Platform.
All 13 videos are available in the playlist: Powering the Change to a Circular Economy: Video Series.
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Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney
Samantha’s research focus is understanding the process of business transition to sustainability, at the micro firm level, as well a sector, technological and geographical levels. Her particular focus is innovation processes and systems that allow sustainable development pathways for firms and industries, and how collective action through corporate social responsibility and stewardship support innovation.
Director (Innovation), Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney
Damien’s passion for research is centred on resource stewardship. He is leader of the Wealth from Waste Cluster, a multi-university collaboration researching pathways to activate the circular economy for metals in Australia and beyond. The cluster has focussed on 'mining' above ground resources, which are the metals contained in collections of discarded manufacturing products and consumer goods. Damien is Chair of the Energy Storage Working Group for the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative, serves on the Ministerial Advisory Committee for the NSW Container Deposit Scheme and is editor-in-chief for the journal Resources. With a focus on strategies for responsible prosperity, Damien has worked collaboratively with government and industry clients spanning the minerals, water, waste and energy sectors to create change towards sustainable futures in a digital age.
Principal Research Fellow, Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) at The University of Queensland
Glen has over 25 years’ experience in the resources industries, spanning both research and commercial activities in the area of responsible resource use and processing. He was lead researcher of a multi-year project that resulted in the development of the SUSOP sustainability risk management framework and was directly involved in its commercialisation. He has also led a program of work on barriers and enablers for industrial ecology in Australia in the 3-year Wealth from Waste Cluster research collaboration. Glen is currently the Program Leader of the Life Cycles of Mines and Metals Research Program in SMI, which has a holistic focus on environmental impacts, social implications, technical innovations and economic factors over the life of a mining project.
Ruth’s research focuses on the intersections between social change, environmental degradation and environmental governance. She has examined this through studies of the consumption of goods and materials, and associated issues of waste, reuse and materials recycling, and of the social and cultural aspects of land use change in rural and regional Australia, with an emphasis on biodiversity consequences. From 2013-16 Ruth led the Monash team on the multi-university Wealth from Waste CSIRO Flagship research collaboration, which explored the potential for more advanced metals recycling in Australia. Through this work, she developed an interest in the interface between social science research on consumption and socio-technical change and industrial ecology assessments of material flows and environmental footprints.
Senior Lecturer, Business School, University of Technology Sydney
Melissa researches and teaches in the areas of sustainable enterprise, circular economy, social impact and complexity. Her work is transdisciplinary and directed toward understanding how people organize, learn and adapt to sustainable transitions. Her work is published in books and journal articles and she led the development of an online sharing community of practice through the platform www.sustainability.edu.au
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