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The Transition to a Circular Built Environment in Australia: An Analysis of the Jurisdictional Policy Framework

  • Published on October 30, 2023

The construction industry significantly impacts the built environment throughout its lifecycle from design, construction, operation to end-of-life considerations and decisions. In Australia, the industry generates almost 3 tonnes of waste per-capita, and this is expected to increase in the near future based on past trends. This paper focuses on understanding and analysing the various jurisdictional policy frameworks across Australia to support circular transitions in the built environment. Policy and regulatory leadership can enable and support grounding circular economy practices at national and state levels. The analysis found that circular economy frameworks rely heavily on recovery and recycling of construction waste, while there is minimal focus on designing out waste. This highlights that waste elimination within the policy setting is viewed as an end-of-pipe solution of minimising waste to landfill rather than a design lead strategy. The focus on recycling within circular economy policies can led to public misconceptions about circularity, which can be a major barrier if systemic transitions are to be achieved.

Professor Usha Iyer-Raniga is at the School of Property and Construction Management at RMIT University. Usha is co-leading the One Planet Network’s Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme (SBC), United Nations 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (UN 10FYP SCP) aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 12, as well as the newly formed Integrated Platform for Circular Economy, Climate Resilience, and Energy. This work is directly related to the work of the UN OPN SBC programme. 

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