Celebrating one year of the ACE Hub

Celebrating one year of the ACE Hub

By Lucy Jones  November 16th, 2021

In the lead up to our first birthday, we look back on the achievements of the Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub).

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Planet Ark's ACE Hub is one year young and, while we still have much work to do, we are extremely proud of what we have achieved so far. The Hub was officially launched by Planet Ark and Environment Minister Sussan Ley at the Sydney Opera House in November 2020 with the mission of accelerating Australia's circular economy transition.  

"The transformation to a circular economy will require one of the greatest collaboration efforts ever undertaken by humanity," Planet Ark co-CEO Paul Klymenko announced as the program kicked off.   

One year later, this statement couldn't ring truer. The Hub launched with the support of an Australian Government grant, our associate sponsors BINGO Industries and KeepCup and supporting sponsor Planet Ark Power. Since then, we have collaborated with circular economy practitioners, businesses, non-profits, tertiary institutions and local, state and federal government organisations to progress Australia's circular economy.   

We have discussed circular economy opportunities with people from all walks of life, from teachers and small business owners to ministers and CEOs; set up bodies to provide strategic advice on circular economy; developed a plethora of educational resources; and established the ACE Hub as the focal point of circular economy ideas and action across the country. 

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who has collaborated with the ACE Hub so far, both formally and informally. Each of you has a vital role to play in transforming our economy. To mark our one-year anniversary, we are reflecting on what the program has achieved to date — please join us in celebrating a huge year of circular economy action in Australia.  

Bringing experts together to provide strategic direction and leadership through the formation of Working Groups   

This year the ACE Hub established three governance groups. The first is the ACE Hub Advisory Board, which is chaired by Dr Scott Valentine, Director and Senior Circular Economy Advisor at KPMG, and comprised of senior decision makers from industry and government. The Board's role is to advise on the development and operation of the ACE Hub, including overseeing our other working groups. You can catch up on its meetings here.  

The Metrics Working Group, Chaired by Dr Heinz Schandl, Senior Science Leader at CSIRO, manages the data requirements of a circular economy by providing strategic advice, assessing tools and systems and advising on research and data needs. The group is currently working on a draft paper on general and scientific criteria for circular economy metrics in Australia.   

The Procurement Working Group is addressing barriers to the adoption of circular procurement by facilitating collaboration across government and business. The group brings together experts to evaluate procurement opportunities and policies, identify metrics for circular procurement, determine priority areas of work and develop and implement a roadmap for circular procurement in Australia. You can read an interview with the Procurement Working Group chair and CEO of the Supply Chain Sustainability School, Hayley Jarick, here.   

The ACE Hub is currently in the process of forming a fourth Working Group for the education sector. As a first step, we have established a Teacher's Community with the goal of improving circular economy education in secondary schools.   

Hosting circular economy events to showcase action taking place in Australia and globally  

Our online events series has explored circular economy concepts and introduced organisations activating change in the community. These free sessions have seen expert speakers engage with audiences on a broad range of topics, from the fundamental principles of a circular economy and climate change to finance and data. Presenters have included: 

 You can catch up on the entire series here.  

Providing real world examples of circular projects, products and policies  

One of the most effective ways to learn about a new concept is by seeing how others have brought it to life. Our case studies share the stories of circular pioneers working across government, industry and the community. The detailed documents act as learning tools for those who are starting out on their circular economy journeys and provide insights on the development of circular projects, from ideation through to implementation and results. Featured projects include: 

  • The Reimaginarium — a social enterprise making reclaimed goods mainstream  

  • KeepCup — the Aussie company that built a worldwide reuse revolution  

  • Worn Up — a start-up transforming old school uniforms into desks for students   

  • Signify — the world’s first lighting as a service program 

  • Hunter Joint Organisation —working to establish Australia's first circular region 

  • Thread Together — a socially equitable solution to fashion’s waste problem  

Explore many more circular economy initiatives here.  

Conducting research to inform and support the circular transition  

The ACE Hub's core research piece is the annual 'Circularity in Australian Business: Awareness, Knowledge and Perceptions' report. The yearly survey of senior decision makers measures understanding and uptake of circular economy in the business community. This research identifies barriers to adopting circular approaches as well as the benefits they present. The 2020 report can be viewed here and the 2021 edition will be released in early December.  

In addition to this research, we are working closely with our Collaboration Partners and Technical Supporters, which include Deakin University and CSIRO, to expand Australia-specific circular economy research and data sets. One research project in development is a circular metrics report being prepared by ACE Hub Technical Supporter and circular economy consultancy Edge Environment, due out early next year.   

Providing thought leadership at events and through educational articles   

Part of the ACE Hub's role is to support the circular transition by sharing knowledge. Members of the ACE Hub team have spoken at over 50 events, webinars and conferences this past year. Planet Ark's Head of Circular Economy Development, Dr Nicole Garofano, has presented or appeared on panels at Coffs Waste Conference, the Australia-Brazil Circular Economy Innovation Forum and the Circular Economy Futures meetup, to name just a few. Nicole also sat on the National Clothing Textiles Waste Roundtable, convened at Parliament House to address Australia's textile waste, and spoke on the following podcasts: 

The ACE Hub has also spread the word about circular economy through our news and feature articles. Over the course of the year, we have published expert opinion pieces on procurementproduct stewardshiplifecycle thinking and more.   

We have also covered circular economy developments in Australia including innovative recycling technology, significant policy announcements and inspiring stories of communities embracing reuse.  

Creating a rich repository of circular economy resources  

The ever-evolving Knowledge Hub is a database of research, articles, tools, videos, policies, case studies and more. The Knowledge Hub is designed with the principle of 'not reinventing the wheel' in mind and aggregates information from circular economy leaders across the country and around the globe.   

Thousands of users have taken deep dives into different aspects of the circular economy using the Knowledge Hub over the past year. We are constantly expanding the database to capture the most up-to-date information on circular economy activity in Australia and globally. Explore the Knowledge Hub here.  

You can also keep a lookout for our exciting collaboration portal, due for launch to ACE Hub newsletter subscribers by the end of 2021. We look forward to welcoming you there.   

Delivering the latest circular economy news, events and courses directly to your inbox through the ACE Hub Newsletter  

Now with over 3,000 subscribers, the ACE Hub newsletter keeps the community up to date with the latest circular economy news, events, courses and case studies. Highlights from the past year include: 

If you aren't already subscribed, you can sign up here

Thank you for being part of the journey so far and stay tuned for an even bigger year ahead.  

This project received grant funding from the Australian Government. Thanks to our sponsors, BINGO IndustriesKeepCup and Planet Ark Power, our Technical Supporters, Edge Environmentthinkstep-anzPoint AdvisoryEunomiaMRA Consulting and our Collaboration Partners, APCOCircular Economy Victoria, Circular Economy Perth, administered by HolonicCSIRODeakin UniversityThe Holland Circular HotspotNSW Circular and Sustainability Victoria for supporting us to date. 

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Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

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