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Circular Economy

Overview of initiative

With increasing pressure on natural resources, unprecedented levels of waste and pollution, and the urgent need to address climate change, Australia has begun to explore sustainable solutions. The circular economy model offers a compelling alternative to the traditional linear “take, make, waste” approach and presents a significant opportunity to prioritise our environment while also boosting supply chain resilience, creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and securing a sustainable future for all Australians.

This initiative is driving government and industry engagement to coordinate an Australian standards position in key areas of the circular economy including environmental management, textiles, organics and food loss, sustainable procurement, and renewables.

Objectives include:

  • Foster collaboration across all sectors of the economy to support the development of horizontal and vertical circular economy standards
  • Developing innovative guidance in partnership with Circular Economy leaders for the benefit of Australian industry, government, and consumers (See our work with CSIRO Standards mapping – Ending Plastic Waste )
  • Contributing Standards Australia’s expertise to policy-making in the areas of critical national interest


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, PWC estimates that 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:

  • Developing reference material to promote SA's thought leadership and identify opportunities for the creation of future standards
  • Updating our existing technical standards to accommodate Circular Economy principles
  • Contributing to the development of new Circular Economy standards. Standards Australia's Circular Economy national mirror committee, EV-022, represents Australian interests at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Australia is a participating member of ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy which develops frameworks, implementation guidance, circularity measurements, and product circularity data sheet standards.
Claire Ripley
Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives