Friday, February 23, 2024

Penrith council champions circular economy innovation 

Penrith City Council reinforced its commitment to innovative sustainability when it hosted the Building the Future with Circular Solutions event recently.

Council, in partnership with Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sydney, delivered the event with a program featuring industry leaders in the circular economy and expert speakers from NSW and local government.

In her opening address, Mayor, Tricia Hitchen told the more than 100 attendees that Western Sydney was well-positioned as the centre of innovation to drive change through the circular economy, backed by the unprecedented investment from businesses. 

“We are seeing industry, business and government redefining resource recovery – what was once rubbish are now resources that can be recycled, reused, remanufactured and reimagined,” she said.

“We can deliver better economic, environmental and social outcomes; it takes innovation and a shift in thinking and operating, with collaboration the key,” Cr Hitchen said.  

The Mayor said Council had a proven track record of delivering initiatives that promote a circular economy.

“Penrith was the first metropolitan council in Sydney to implement the Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) waste stream. Since its implementation in 2009, our City has diverted over 440,000 tonnes of waste from landfill for reuse as compost on local sporting fields, parks and gardens,” she said.

RDA Sydney Deputy Chair, and Chief Sustainability Officer, National Intermodal, Kylie Hargreaves, conveyed to the audience how important it was for the construction sector to rethink its approach to waste. 

“It is abundantly clear that the old linear approach of take, make and dispose, simply cannot continue,” she said.

“Instead, we must reduce our initial demand for resources and then re-use, re-purpose or recycle those same resources as many times as possible. 

Building the Future with Circular Solutions was a perfect fit, and it was great to hear from both policymakers and solution providers as to how we can achieve our ambitions together,” Mrs Hargreaves concluded. 

The event explored the challenges and opportunities facing the construction sector.

Speakers included Lisa McLean, CEO of Circular Australia, Jaine Morris, COO of Coreo, and representatives from Boomerang Labs, saveBOARD, CRDC Global and BINGO Industries. 

Attendees were presented with several case studies showcasing innovative ideas, businesses and products already adopting circular economy solutions, including Penrith City Council’s award winning ‘Let it Bee’ wildflower meadow project.   

Celia Tesoriero, Program Manager, Sustainability Advantage discusses Challenges and Opportunities for Businesses at the Building the Future with Circular Solutions Event.

Other Council initiatives in this space include the Australian first use of recycled coffee cups in our road asphalt mix to resurface our roads. Similarly, the use of recycled glass to create more durable road surfaces across the City has also been embraced. 

Penrith continues to expand upon this with new programs that look to address areas such as textiles waste and repurposing old and unwanted bicycles. Council’s support of the charity DV Safe Phone has seen more than 140 mobile phones collected by the community to be refurbished and handed to the region’s domestic violence victims.  

In 2022, Council developed a Circular Economy Roadmap, which identified four focus areas and 18 initiatives to ensure that Council is implementing circular economy principles and practices within its own functions and operations.

The Council also engages with the community and local businesses to build capacity and support actions to transition to a circular economy. 

For more information on Council’s Circular Economy, visit Penrith City Council’s Circular Economy Hub. 

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