By 2030, single-use will be a dirty word

Published: 2 May 2022
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Victorians are embracing re-use and the sharing economy to cut down on waste. As we seek to get the most value from our precious resources, things we use only once and throw away will become a thing of the past.

Toy libraries, repair cafes, Keep Cups at your local cafe – we are reusing, repairing and sharing more than ever!

Households and communities are increasingly engaging with the sharing economy. We are not just teaching our kids to share; we’re teaching each other to share as a way of maximising the usage and lifespan of everyday items.

Looking to the future, you and your friends are having a picnic. You’ve packed your reusable cutlery made from recycled materials, you’ve borrowed some picnic chairs from a circular hire service and your reusable lemonade bottle is manufactured from recycled plastic. Paper plates and plastic cutlery are things of the past.

Scenarios like this encourage a slower flow of products and materials in our economy, reducing the demand for new products and avoiding waste generation.

Learning to share

Sharing platforms are all the rage. These platforms increase the use of products by enabling shared access or ownership. In doing so, they maximise the time that a product is used.

This isn’t exactly a new concept, but it’s being revitalised and scaled through online businesses like Reshare – a Melbourne based peer-to-peer user platform for the sharing of household goods. Don’t have a blender? Why buy one when you could simply borrow one?

A common example of us learning to share, is your local toy library – there are now more than ever across Australia. They help you keep kids entertained, while keeping toys in the economy longer and out of landfill.

>> Learn how we’re supporting communities to develop their own sharing economy solutions at Recycling Victoria Communities Fund grants.

Victoria now has more than 30 repair cafes and volunteer workshops across the region. Source: https://thefifthestate.com.au/waste/the-rise-of-the-repairers-is-subversivebut-excellent-news

Extending the life of products

Businesses that extend the life of products are also growing. These services extend the use of goods and components by repairing, upgrading and re-selling them.

More companies in the fashion industry, including big businesses like The Country Road Group are creating take-back schemes. Customers can return worn items in exchange for store credits or cash. These companies then repair or even up-cycle items before selling them again.

Recognising that this process is new for some companies, Australian start-up Ownershift has launched to act as an intermediary between consumers and brands. Ownershift plans to take back items, wash them, quality check them and then re-sell them on behalf of brands – acting as a business partner.

Through the Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund, our Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) is supporting businesses to embrace these circular services helping to prevent more than 36,000 tonnes of waste and deliver more than 27,000 tonnes of recycling capacity.

>> Learn more about the second round of the Business Support Fund opening in May.

Did you know that 20% of carbon emissions come from manufacturing in Victoria, 80% of collected plastic waste in Victoria goes straight to landfill, 85% of goods brought into Victoria's repair cafes get repaired

Recovering more plastic

Boosting this trend even further is the introduction of a container deposit scheme in Victoria.

Active from 2023, this scheme will see more recyclable containers becoming part of a circular economy that extends the life of materials – while providing a financial incentive for returned items.

A single-use plastic ban will be implemented in Victoria in 2023, this will reduce our reliance on and access to single-use plastic items.

It’s vital that we cut down on our use of single-use and low-use items for many reasons, least of all because recycling is complex, expensive and resource-intensive.

In the last year, only about 12 per cent of plastics used in Australia were recycled. We need to move towards better plastics recovery and recycling, and importantly, use less plastics overall. The global manufacturing industry, powered by demand for single-use items, also contributes to global emissions.

By continuing to get behind more circular services and the sharing economy Victorians can continue to make a difference.

Future trends

SV is looking to the future of sustainability in Victoria. We’re unpacking the future trends that matter and spotlighting key opportunities for innovation and investment as we look to a future defined by our transition to a circular, climate-resilient economy.

Learn about 4 more future trends that will shape Victoria’s climate resilient economy by 2030.