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Analysis and Comment (21)

What goes around: repair cafés aim to embrace the so-called ‘circular economy’ of making stuff last longer. What goes around: repair cafés aim to embrace the so-called ‘circular economy’ of making stuff last longer. Jade Herriman

‘Repair cafés’ are about fixing things – including the economy

Imagine your smartphone’s screen gets smashed, or your bike wheel gets buckled, or your favourite boots get a hole in them. What do you do? You could buy a replacement. Or you could join the worldwide…
Electronic thermoset components, such as those found in mobile phones, are destined for landfill – but new research points to a way to make them recyclable. Electronic thermoset components, such as those found in mobile phones, are destined for landfill – but new research points to a way to make them recyclable. David Goehring/Flickr

Recycling the ‘unrecyclable’: a new class of thermoset plastics

Plastics comprise around 10% of solid waste in Australia. And while we can recycle certain types, there is a group of particularly stable plastics called thermosets, common in electronic devices, which…
We know recycling, but the concept of a circular economy is much broader. We know recycling, but the concept of a circular economy is much broader. Dan Peled/AAPImage

Explainer: what is the circular economy?

When the who’s who of business and world leaders met at last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos a different industrial model was on the agenda: the circular economy. It’s a term the average person may…
Products that were once new and expensive are quickly treated with disdain. Products that were once new and expensive are quickly treated with disdain. Gareth Fuller/PA

Cutting waste needs longer lasting goods, and tax breaks

Reducing waste should be uncontroversial. While the government’s newly published waste prevention programme represents an improvement on previous strategies, it could have been – should have been – far…
The smiling face of mundane government. The smiling face of mundane government. mrlerone

Mundanarchy: the insidious rule of inanimate objects

Popular conceptions of government tend to derive from media representations of politicians in action, political speeches, yesterday in parliament, elections, scandal, controversy and so on. And the politics…
Bleuurgh, gross! Get it on Facebook quick. Bleuurgh, gross! Get it on Facebook quick. Nick Saltmarsh

Pics in the bin, Fridgecam and the digital war on waste

Our awareness of food waste is increasing all the time, yet we continue to throw away vast amounts of produce even when we don’t need to. We are getting tired of being lectured on our habits so its time…
Hazardous, I tell you - and I’m not talking about the manufacturers' customer service. Hazardous, I tell you - and I’m not talking about the manufacturers' customer service. STEVE YEATER/AP

A solution that uses toxic waste to clean up toxins

The manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, fuelled by increased consumption and by the equipment’s relatively short lifespan. As a result…
Drink containers are a threat to sea birds and marine life. And they’re ugly. Drink containers are a threat to sea birds and marine life. And they’re ugly. Flickr/Cleaner Croydon

Container deposit laws: cleaner, more sustainable

We have a major problem with beverage containers in Australia. Between 7-8 billion are land-filled or littered every year. Nationally, less than half are recycled, and drink containers continue to pollute…
Despite the popularity, a national container deposit scheme isn’t the right way to clean up our litter. Despite the popularity, a national container deposit scheme isn’t the right way to clean up our litter. Flickr/nist6ss

Container deposit laws past their use-by date

The old-fashioned approach to recycling in which consumers pay a redeemable deposit on drink containers is popular among all kinds of people, from Greenpeace members to traditional Coalition voters. But…
Is Coca-Cola Amatil’s opposition to the Northern Territory’s container deposit scheme out of concern for household budgets or simply decreased profit margins? Is Coca-Cola Amatil’s opposition to the Northern Territory’s container deposit scheme out of concern for household budgets or simply decreased profit margins? Flickr/Julian Stallabrass

Coke chokes the NT container deposit scheme

A reported 10 billion drink containers are thrown away in Australia every year. Many of these are recycled, but many end up in landfill, on roadsides and in waterways. The danger posed to wildlife by plastic…
Plastic is a major threat to our seabirds and marine life - this bird has filled its stomach with plastic during the 80-90 days it lived. Plastic is a major threat to our seabirds and marine life - this bird has filled its stomach with plastic during the 80-90 days it lived. Ian Hutton

Plastic and politics: how bureaucracy is failing our forgotten wildlife

Seabirds: the poster children for ocean health. Fishers use them to identify fishing hot spots. Environmental and marine scientists use them as indicators of the condition of the ocean environment due…
Plastic bottles often end up on the beach where the plastic can remain for decades, harming sea life and the fish we eat. Plastic bottles often end up on the beach where the plastic can remain for decades, harming sea life and the fish we eat. senderweb/Flickr

National container deposit scheme crushed by Australian Senate

For the past 30 years, South Australians have lived in a state with a “container deposit scheme”. This means on small bottles or cans of water, soft drink, juice or alcohol, consumers pay a 10c deposit…
We need a more intelligent discussion about how to use our finite carbon, and it needs to be about metal. We need a more intelligent discussion about how to use our finite carbon, and it needs to be about metal. AAP

Treasure your metal: why we need to respect embedded energy

The recent furore about the carbon tax in this country has not been a celebration of enlightened debate. I think much of the debate misses a vital aspect of carbon use, namely, that using carbon to make…
Recycling seems like a bright idea, but is its shine coming off? Recycling seems like a bright idea, but is its shine coming off? Kilgub/Flickr

What a waste! Why reducing rubbish might not make sense

The initial impressions most people have of waste-reduction campaigns and calls for greater recycling are that they must be good. After all, most of us are taught from a very early age that waste is a…
We have to rethink the way we construct buildings, to make them easier to reuse after demolition. We have to rethink the way we construct buildings, to make them easier to reuse after demolition. sssteve.one/Flickr

Beyond recycling: making waste obsolete

Given our rapid depletion of resources, especially raw materials, and Australia’s ever-increasing waste creation, it’s time to ask: what are the best ways to encourage resource recovery and recycling to…
Much of our e-waste – such as these computer parts – ends up in developing countries. Much of our e-waste – such as these computer parts – ends up in developing countries. Greenpeace India

E-waste: the high cost of high-tech

E-waste from used electrical and electronic gadgets such as desktop computers, laptops and iPhones is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. Rapid uptake of information technology around…
How can we dispose of 20 million tyres a year while minimising our environmental impact? How can we dispose of 20 million tyres a year while minimising our environmental impact? ppip

Recycling helps tyred-out rubber hit the road again

Used tyres pose a major environmental risk around the world, with more than one billion tyres disposed of every year. Most of these tyres end up in landfill. Estimates suggest more than 20 million passenger…
Buying this will make you feel good, but should it? Buying this will make you feel good, but should it? turkeychik

Explainer: is recycled paper really better for the environment?

For many years, individual consumers, industries and governments have all purchased printing and writing paper made with a high recycled-fibre content. Why? Because they believe it is the most responsible…
When resources are scarce, turning rubbish into something productive is a great business model. When resources are scarce, turning rubbish into something productive is a great business model. AAP

Scarcity as the ‘mother of invention’: can we consume less and still grow?

For over 200 years, since the industrial revolution, we have seen economic growth strongly coupled with the consumption of more and more resources. The more we grew, the more we consumed. This model works…

Research Briefs (3)