Circular Economy

With the Eaglehawk Landfill due to reach capacity and become a full time transfer station in 2023, the City of Greater Bendigo is working to put in place circular economy solutions to manage waste and resources into the future and ultimately developed a Circular Greater Bendigo.

The City’s waste system currently struggles to do much with end-of-life materials (what we currently call “waste”). However, the creation of circular economy solutions will change how we handle and value our material resources, keep them in use for as long as possible, create local jobs and support local industry.

The creation of a circular economy will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by current waste management practices and from creating products from primary (new) resources, reduce sending valuable resources to landfill, create jobs and investment and keep resources in the region.

The Circular Greater Bendigo project commenced in 2020 with an open expression of interest, followed by a closed-tender process, the first phase of the project is coming to an end with four proposed solutions being shortlisted.

Project questions and answers

Details on the process the City has followed to date and the proposed solutions.

Existing landfills are no longer sustainable. The development of new landfills, or transport of waste to other locations, is not in line with the City of Greater Bendigo’s Circular Economy and Zero Waste Policy and Climate Change and Environment Strategy 2021-2026, or state and federal government policies. In 2014 City Councillors also place a moratorium on the development of new landfills in the region.

The Eaglehawk landfill’s last active cell is due to reach capacity in 2022-23. To prepare for this closure, the City of Greater Bendigo is building a ‘circular economy’ for the region to futureproof our relationship with end-of-life materials i.e. “waste”, protect the environment, support local manufacturing and prepare for future population growth.

Did you know?

Landfilling waste materials, and the process of moving waste materials to landfills, accounts for over half of Greater Bendigo’s greenhouse gas emissions.

With circular economy solutions in place, there will be limited impact of the Eaglehawk landfill closure on the Greater Bendigo community and no additional costs to residents.

The City plans to maintain, and in many ways increase, the current level of service by providing alternative solutions to recycle, reuse or recover wasted materials i.e. “waste” that has traditionally been sent to landfill. While the Eaglehawk site will remain open to the public as a full-time transfer station, in this fact sheet you can find out about four proposed solutions that represent the first phase of replacing the landfilling of waste in Greater Bendigo.

If we don’t take steps to manage our waste now, we will see increased pollution, higher costs to manage landfills and the destruction of natural habitats in the Greater Bendigo community.

Our current waste system struggles to do much with the end-of-life materials we call ‘waste’.

The circular economy seeks to change how we handle and value our material resources and keep them in use for as long as possible. This is a shift from a ‘take, make, waste’ society to a ‘take, make, reuse’ society, where we recover and eventually reuse all of the material resources from products we no longer need. A circular economy also regenerates natural systems by redesigning food systems and recovering organic material.

With good design and effective recovery of materials, we can aim to avoid waste completely and create new industries for Greater Bendigo.

Did you know?

Landfilling waste materials, and the process of moving waste materials to landfills, accounts for over half of Greater Bendigo’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2019, the City declared a ‘climate emergency’ which kick-started the development of the first phase of the Circular Greater Bendigo project in 2020.

The Circular Greater Bendigo project draws upon the global rise of the circular economy concept to shift how Greater Bendigo consumes resources and how materials at the end of their life are valued and cycled back into new products. It also reduces negative environmental impacts and provides new economic development opportunities for businesses in the region.

This project aims to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by current waste management practices
  • Shift from landfilling valuable resources to developing circular economy solutions
  • Kick-start the creation of a local circular economy and a platform to create jobs, invest locally and keep resources in the region
  • Ensure Greater Bendigo residents and business continue to access circular economy services for the long-term.

Alignment with new strategy

Building a Circular Greater Bendigo is a flagship project in the City’s new Climate Change and Environment Strategy 2021-2026, which sets the future direction for actions and investment relating to environmental sustainability and climate action.

A circular economy is one of six action areas listed in the strategy and includes the following targets for 2026:

  • Zero organics to landfill from Council operations and from the region
  • Council has established ‘Circular Economy Hubs’
  • Reused and recycled content products and materials are a standard part of project design and service delivery.

To achieve these targets and prepare for a post-landfill future, circular economy solutions need to be developed for Greater Bendigo. There is plenty of work to be done which requires long-term effort.

Did you know?

The City of Greater Bendigo manages around 95,000 tonnes of waste materials each year. More than 85% of this waste could be recovered with the right solutions in place.

On the hunt for circular economy solutions

In June 2020, the City received over 40 expressions of interest to develop circular economy solutions for Greater Bendigo. Of these, 22 submissions proceeded to one-on-one co-design discussions held over the course of 9 months.

A closed-tender process was launched in 2021. Of the 22 successful EOI respondents, 13 submitted 11 circular economy solution tenders that were assessed against the following decision-making framework:

  • Potential to provide better environmental outcomes compared to a ‘business as usual’ approach
  • A significant increase in diversion from landfill, and resource recovery
  • Preference for local solutions, local employment and impact on local businesses
  • Alignment with local, state and federal policies and regulations
  • Financial viability, affordability, responsibility and sustainability.

Four circular economy solutions were shortlisted for assessment and underwent financial due diligence. The proposed solutions were assessed by an expert panel consisting of City of Greater Bendigo staff and Councillors and independent advisors. The City also received independent feedback on the tender process and specifications. The Greater Bendigo community is now being invited to share their comments and questions about the four proposed solutions.

Below is an outline of the four proposed circular economy solutions, which target different waste materials. It is envisaged that the City will proactively support the setup of these solutions, in partnership with the providers, with no additional costs to the Greater Bendigo community.

Shortlisted Circular Economy Solutions

1. Food Organics and Garden Organics

What: 17,200 tonnes/year residential and commercial green waste

How: Local composting at a new site near Bendigo (<25km from Bendigo)

Result: 7,310 tonnes/year soil conditioner

Impact: 16.3% reduction in emissions vs. current kerbside organics disposal arrangements (composted outside the Greater Bendigo region)

2. General Waste

What: 30,000 tonnes/year general waste previously sent to landfill

How: Small-scale, modular energy from waste (EfW) plant, using pyrolysis and gasification to create new resources for use

Result: 5,660 tonnes/year biochar; gas is converted to electricity and exported to the grid

Impact: 78% reduction in emissions vs. landfilling general waste

3. Plastics

What: A small portion of the plastics recovered via residents’ co-mingled recycling bins

How: Small-scale, Bendigo-based manufacturing start-up at the R&D testing phase

Result: Structural engineering products (to replace steel products)

Impact: Upwards of 40% reduction in emissions vs. existing recycling route for the plastic

4. Soft Plastics

What: Soft plastics from Greater Bendigo

How: Melbourne-based manufacturer

Result: Road-based additive and recycled plastic pellets (for manufacturers) to be used in Greater Bendigo

Impact: 392% reduction in emissions vs. current landfilling of soft plastics

If you have any questions regarding the solutions or the process, please email [email protected]

The proposed solutions will be presented to Council at its meeting on Monday April 20, 2022 and further circular economy solutions will continue to be developed in 2022 for alternative waste streams, such as commercial and industrial waste, and other items traditionally sent to landfill.

Contact us

If you have any questions regarding the solutions or the process please email [email protected]

Related links

For a detailed guide to the Circular Economy, we recommend checking out the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website.