Overview of initiative

A circular economy is an economic model which aims to maximise the use of resources through the reuse, repair, repurposing, and recycling of products and materials to extend their lifecycle. The circular economy is based on the principles of eliminating waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.* This presents a significant opportunity for Australia to:

  • Decarbonise the Australian economy
  • Boost Australia's supply chain resilience
  • Create jobs and strengthen the economy

Standards Australia and its partners are collaborating to create solutions that speed Australia's transition to a circular economy.



Transitioning to a circular economy will require concerted effort across government, industry, and consumers. Some of the challenges Australia faces include:

  • Rethinking the way we value resources, including our approach to consumption and waste management
  • Creating a harmonised framework that measures and monitors the life cycle of products and services
  • Shifting away from linear business models and adopting circular practices that keep products and materials in use for as long as possible

Why is this important?

The current take-make-use-dispose economic model is putting the earth under immense pressure. Population growth and material consumption is accelerating the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and overuse of natural resources - leading to deforestation, land degradation, waste, and pollution. By transitioning to a Circular Economy, Australia could generate $1,860 billion in direct economic benefits over twenty years and save 165 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2040.* However, harmonised guidance is needed to provide a common language for cooperation and investment. Currently, there are limited Australian and international standards that fill this gap. Standards Australia is also working on solutions to ensure Australia is aligned to UN Sustainable Development Goals through the 'circularisation’ of our standards catalogue.



Through partnerships and collaboration Standards Australia is:

  1. Coordinating a Circular Economy Advisory Group to strengthen partnerships and capitalise on opportunities. This group has identified immediate priority areas in building/infrastructure (roads), textiles, organics, plastics
  2. Developing reference material to promote SA's thought leadership and identify opportunities for the creation of future standards
  3. Updating our existing technical standards to accommodate Circular Economy principles
  4. Contributing to the development of new Circular Economy standards. Standards Australia's Circular Economy national mirror committee (EV-022) represents Australia at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) where Australia is participating in the development of standards that cover frameworks and principles, guidelines on business models, and measuring circularity

Research report on Circular Economy


Stephanie Groves

Strategic Initiatives Officer