A group of 13 councils in the southwest region of Western Australia are joining forces to speed up their transition to a circular economy. 

The group is requesting that companies in local, national and international markets conceptualise methods for putting waste to work in a way that will help the region.

According to Nick Edwards of the City of Busselton, the project officer responsible for the South West Regional Waste Group, this is an informal plan that will empower city councils to transition to a circular economy.

The central concept is to apply a vast variety of new and emerging technologies to the transformation of waste into valuable by-products, at the same time reducing the volume of waste that goes to landfills.

Edwards says that public enthusiasm for this issue is at an all-time high, particularly in regards to The ABC’s War on Waste program—with people informing themselves about and following the supply chain of their products.

This transition also is set to benefit council economics.

Aside from Edwards’ group, other entities exploring waste alternatives include NSW’s Tenterfield Shire Council in partnership with Moree Plains Shire Council, the NSW Country Mayors Association and Regional Development Australia – Northern Inland—who in particular is exploring the possibility of a waste to energy plant.

Yet Edwards believes that his group of councils is the only entity in the nation comprised of groups joining forces to investigate waste alternatives in a non-prescriptive manner.

He says that Western Australian councils do work together when they need to do so, leveraging economies of scale and joining forces with smaller councils to expand upon their power.

Waste to energy is an example of a technology that may be offered as a possible solution to this issue, with a number of related projects being proposed throughout Australia. WA’s Kwinana, 40 kilometres south of Perth, is set to host Australia’s premiere waste to energy facility.

WA councils are exploring other options, one of which involves a single operator servicing all councils from a central plant and facility—or perhaps smaller scale processing locales for each council. The ultimate goal, Edwards says, is to find new waste disposal methods due to problems with landfills.

The reform of waste management is a huge priority in Western Australia, with the state government releasing the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 earlier this year to give local governments some direction in this area. More—and more creative and productive—solutions are sought. Alternative waste ideas can be submitted online to the South West Regional Waste Group for their consideration.