On 26 September 2018 the EU-Australia Leadership Forum convened a highly successful Sectoral Policy Workshop entitled ‘Progressing the Circular Economy: European and Australian Perspectives on the Plastics Problem.’
The event, based in Sydney and generously hosted by the New South Wales State Office of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, brought together a total of 29 European and Australian participants to identify opportunities to enhance the progression of the circular economy at both national and international levels and to propose innovative solutions for the sustainable production and consumption of plastics.
Circular economy principles focus on keeping resources in use for as long as possible, and then recovering them into new products at the end of their lives – thus extracting maximum value from that resource and limiting negative environmental impacts.
The workshop proved highly topical, with the Australian Government endorsing new national waste management and packaging targets on the same day as the proceedings.
The Sectoral Policy Workshop was chaired by Helen Millicer (Principal, One Planet Consulting, Australia) and Dr Mervyn Jones (Director, Sustainable Global Resources, United Kingdom).
European keynote speakers included Joris van der Meulen (Founder and Managing Director, Elum Resource and Waste Management), Isabel Ihde (Policy Adviser, Hamburg Chamber of Commerce) and Máté Kriza (Chairman, Foundation for the Circular Economy).
Australian keynote speakers included Peter Allan (Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Resource Use), Sophi Macmillan (Chief Executive Officer, Vinyl Council of Australia) and Dr Damien Giurco (Professor of Resource Futures, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney).
The workshop also featured a series of engaging lightning presentations from Zdenek Hruska, (Public Affairs Director, VinylPlus), Lauren Heritage-Brand (Policy Adviser, Australian Local Government Association) and Adrian Nicolae (Team Leader - Climate Change, Energy, Circular Economy, Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific).
The event proved to be an ideal forum for fostering dialogue between like-minded partners to expand on individual and collective efforts to advance the circular economy.
Key recommendations from the workshop will be presented to the official EU-Australia macroeconomic dialogue and will also inform discussions at the EU-Australia Senior Leaders Forum and Emerging Leaders Forum which will take place in Brussels this coming November.