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Circular economy

Australia is serious about reducing our waste and putting it to work.

We’re determined to exceed our national target recycling 80% of our waste by 2030. To do this we are:

  • banning the export of unprocessed glass, plastic, tyres, paper and cardboard in a world first
  • investing more than A$1 billion to turbocharge our waste and recycling industries
  • supporting industry-led recycling schemes through the A$20 million National Product Stewardship Investment Fund
  • halving our food waste by 2030.


In grants and incentives

Australia offers nearly A$70 billion in grants, incentives and funding pools to Australian-based companies across priority sectors.

Source: Accenture

Australia is committed to reprocessing an additional 645,000 tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres each year. The Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority road map identifies growth opportunities in:

  • recyclable products and packaging
  • cleaner feedstocks for remanufacturing (and enabling tech)
  • products from recycled feedstocks (such as plastic, organic waste or e-waste)
  • recycling clean energy components (including PV panels, wind turbines and batteries).

A future circular economy in just three areas – food, transport and the built environment – could create an economic benefit to Australia of A$23 billion in GDP by 2025. (Source: KPMG)

Australia’s waste sector is undergoing a seismic shift. We’re improving resource recovery, increasing the use of recycled material and better managing waste material flows – all underpinned by the transition to renewable energy sources. There’s strong support for pioneer entrepreneurs who are designing for the future and disrupting the way we extract, manufacture, reuse and recycle resources and products.

Reducing our footprint by making a greater impact

To drive the evolution to a circular economy, Australia is backing schemes to modernise and transform how we manage and treat waste under the National Waste Policy Action Plan. This supported by the $A190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund that will generate A$600 million of recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.


Cardboard recycling

Innovative technologies

Australia’s transformation into a circular economy demands new technologies and expertise. To grow their businesses, local firms are looking for co-funding and collaborations. That means a wealth of opportunities for companies that can offer innovative waste management solutions, information systems and products.

Australian companies are turning plastics and household waste into furniture, decking, fencing and clothing, and we are developing new domestic markets for recycled materials by setting national standards for recycled content in roads and making recycled products a focus of procurement for infrastructure, defence estate management and general government purchasing.


Recycling and clean energy - woman

Incentives, grants and support

Case studies


Are you a talented individual working towards a circular economy?

Get an idea of the kinds of skills and roles we’re looking for

To support our ambitions to drive the evolution to a circular economy, we’re looking for new technology innovators and talented individuals with the right expertise to make it happen.

The following specialisations are intended to be used as a guide and are not an exhaustive list. The global talent profile provides examples of the calibre of individuals who may meet program requirements. 


  • Artificial intelligence and digital technologies.
  • Bioenergy generation
  • Bio-methane production
  • Commercialisation experience within the industry
  • Development of sustainable production and supply chain practices that reduce atmospheric land and marine pollution
  • Energy infrastructure
  • Environmental science
  • Recycling and responsible manufacturing to support industries (plastics, paper, glass, tyre components, e-waste and lithium batteries) 
  • Reducing emissions and increasing efficient use of natural resources (including energy, water and materials)
  • Sustainable manufacturing and life-cycle engineering specialists
  • Waste treatment (management and reuse) and emissions technology
  • Waste to Energy (WtE) technology (the ability to generate reliable baseload electricity that is also capable of diverting waste away from landfill and reducing carbon emissions)

Global talent profile

Senior well engineering manager responsible for managing multiple advanced carbon capture usage and storage projects.

Post-doctoral researcher with well cited high impact publications in the fields of metallurgy, circular economy, critical metals and solar photovoltaic end of life issues.

The following experience or professions would not usually meet the parameters of the program:

  • Engineers and mechanics who do not lead international projects 
  • Sales or purchasing representatives


Professor Veena Sahajwalla
It is a real privilege to live, work and have a family in Australia, and for me, my passion for science and technology continues to grow as we strive to help solve some of our global and local challenges. It is also vitally important to continue to encourage people to join us in solving for these challenges.

It is crucial for science, industry and the community to collaboratively work together on societal solutions, such as the microrecycling science and new technologies I and my team at the Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre at the University of New South Wales (SMaRT@UNSW) are pioneering. Science, engineering and many technical skills are going play such a vital role in developing solutions.

Without these skills, we will not be able to enjoy some of the things we now take for granted, especially in these times of COVID-19. Recovering critical and valuable materials from waste must play a role in helping to electrify the world as we move towards renewable energies, reducing our carbon footprint, and being truly more sustainable. Collaborating with industry, researchers and the community to tackle these challenges will deliver better social, environmental and economic outcomes.
Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director
UNSW SMaRT Centre (Sustainable Materials Research & Technology)

Australia’s circular economy ecosystems

Recent arrivals

photo of Belen Aguirre

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