The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change announced new grants and services to support Victorian organisations as part of the government’s Recycling Victoria action plan, which will see the state move towards an economy that avoids waste and transforms it into valuable resources.
Sustainability entrepreneurs from Victoria, Australia and Chile shared how they built successful businesses that embrace circular economy and transformed market gaps into profitable opportunities. These sparked questions and comments from participants who came from sectors as diverse as manufacturing, retail, food and construction.
Our aim was to start a movement and ignite a conversation. That’s exactly what happened based on the chatter, Q&As and poll contributions and we’re so excited to carry this momentum through to CEBIC’s activities.
The Hon Lily D’AmbrosioMinister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes
Observing how 2020 has shown Victorians to be exemplary in being adaptable, collaborative and innovative, Minister D’Ambrosio said those qualities would see Victoria succeed in transitioning to a circular economy. The highlight from Minister D’Ambrosio was the announcement on support for businesses. She took participants through:
Minister D’Ambrosio noted that CEBIC will enable collaboration across industry and supply chains, and support that businesses, industry groups, research institutions, not-for-profits and governments in working together.
She also discussed the integral role the business community plays in enabling Victoria to achieve the waste reduction targets in the Recycling Victoria policy.
Verónica de la Cerda
Partner and Corporate Chief Executive Officer chief
Verónica described how Chilean company TriCiclos has been supporting both private and public sectors in creating incentives and infrastructure to power the country’s transition to a circular economy.
Verónica drove home the message that being innovative is vital in driving change. TriCiclos started out with the goal of eliminating waste. It went on to establish free recycling stations and now, it manages the largest recycling station network in Latin America. When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit and recycling stations had to be closed temporarily, her team swiftly responded by creating a digital platform to control station access and educate users.
As waste is a design error, Verónica said, the solution can be found in the design process. Alongside consumer-facing work, TriCiclos helps companies to eliminate waste through design. An example is using a digital solution to improve the recyclability of packaging.
Verónica identified the importance of evidence-based decisions, recommending measuring and scoping an issue before selecting solutions. Data also makes impact measurement possible. Only with data can you know if you’re improving. She pointed out that while good intentions may be behind suggestions, the outcome could be worse than the original issue if the strategy taken was not underpinned by data.
We need radical collaboration and meaningful innovation.
Verónica de la Cerda
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Yume Food Australia
Katy explained that she landed on Yume’s business model of an online surplus food marketplace because she wanted to address excessive wastage of food. In Victoria, 2.4 million tonnes of food goes to waste every year – the volume of 250 semi-trailers.
She emphasised the power of education in positioning waste as a commercial opportunity rather than a burden. She explained that environmentally-friendly business practices do not have to come at a cost to the bottom line, and the right approach can create financially viable business practices.
She advised the audience, “don’t do it alone”. It’s important to find like-minded people on your journey. She gave some suggestions: smaller companies can partner larger companies, or you can seek out ‘intrapreneurs’ in other companies who want to champion your ideas.
If you’d like to relive this inspiring and motivating event in full, watch the recording now.
A huge thank-you to all involved, including our fabulous speakers, host Claire Ferres Miles and audience.
This video shows four speakers at the panel discussion that launched the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC).
The four speakers are:
Claire: Good morning, and welcome to this fantastic event, Accelerating the Circular Economy: From global lessons to local perspectives. I look forward to sharing the next hour with you. While we wait a few minutes for people to log on, you're welcome to start engaging with our interactive tools. On the right of the screen, you will see three tabs: a tab to chat, a tab to submit a question in the Q&A, and a tab for our polling. I invite you to use these tools throughout the event.
My name is Claire Ferres Miles, and I'm the CEO of Sustainability Victoria and have the pleasure of being your host today. I'm speaking to you today from the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Eastern Kulin nation. I acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and their enduring connection to this land over the past 60,000 years and pay my respects to elders past, present, and emerging.
Today, I welcome three speakers: the Honourable Lily D'Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change and Minister for Solar Homes; Verónica de la Cerda, partner and corporate CEO of TriCiclos, who is joining us from Chile; and Katy Barfield, founder and CEO of Yume Food Australia. I also want to acknowledge members of the Sustainability Victoria board and our expert advisory group who are also joining the event today. We are all here today because the time is now to ignite a circular movement, a circular economy in Victoria, and I welcome everyone joining us today who are starting in this transition. Perhaps, you are well on your way, or you may even be well-advanced in your circular economy journey. There is much for us to learn from each other.
We want this event to be as interactive as possible, and to the right of the video feed on your screen, you will see the three tabs I mentioned earlier, the polling tab, Q&A, and the chat functions. You can use the chat function throughout the event to share comments and thoughts on the discussion. Please feel free to introduce yourself and your organisation or the project that you're working on. The Q&A function is where you can submit and like questions which will be for our panel discussion later on in the hour. Make sure to mention which your question is for. And finally is the polling function.
Our first poll is now live with the question. What level of knowledge or experience do you have with the circular economy? You can click on the polling tab now to submit a response. As we progress through the morning, I'll keep you updated as the new polls go live. Our first is the Honourable Lily D'Ambrosio, who is going to share with us the bold vision of the Victorian government to create a new economy, a circular economy. Over to you, Minister.
Lily: Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much, Claire, for your welcome. It is great to be here, of course, with you, with Verónica, with Katy, and this is a terrific way to kick off ‘#VicGoesCircular’. I would like to, though, begin by acknowledging formally the traditional owners of the land on which I am located, and that is the land of the Wurundjeri people, and my respects go to all elders past, present, and emerging, and any who may be here amongst all of us right across the country and beyond.
Certainly, this year 2020 hasn't been the year that any one of us really expected, and whilst it's had its significant challenges and continues to, Victorians have shown kindness and resilience, ingenuity, and resourcefulness. And I'm sure that you would agree they’re all very admirable traits for us to have when we are confronted with some significant challenges. We've all had to adapt. We've all had to collaborate, and we've had to innovate, and it's these qualities which Victorians have in abundance and that we must now of course harness as we shift our focus to accelerating our circular economy.
Back in February of this year, we launched the Victorian Government's Recycling Victoria, a new economy action plan. That action plan contained an investment of more than $300 million to drive the state towards a circular economy. This is a once-in-a-generation transformational change, one that involves all Victorians, including households, local government, business and industry, and community organisations. I'm delighted to be here today to: one, launch the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre; and two, to open the first rounds of funding for business. Because together, we will transition to a circular economy.
To help this transition, we've set ambitious targets for the next 10 years. How we make, how we use, recycle and manage everyday products is going to change. We aim to cut waste generation by 15% and to divert 80% of waste from landfill. We also aim to halve the amount of organic material going to landfill. Our new economy will turn what we currently consider ‘waste’ into value, create local industries, potentially boosting our economy by up to $6.7 billion, and see world-class infrastructure and technology built here in Victoria. It will also support the creation of more than 3,900 new local jobs. By 2040, Recycling Victoria will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by up to 19.4 million tonnes.
We can't make this change without also supporting a business-led transition. We're doing this through our $7-million Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre. The Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre or CEBIC, as we are going to call it from here on, will equip Victorian businesses with the support that you've asked for, to allow you to take advantage of circular economy business opportunities.
We've called it a ‘centre’ because CEBIC will provide research and resources. It will facilitate collaboration. It will host events, and it will offer grants and support for businesses. The centre will find out what works in Victoria when moving to a circular economy and share this knowledge widely so others can adopt early successes. Best of all, it is underpinned by a virtual hub, which will continue to grow and develop. But CEBIC isn't just for business. It's about bringing businesses together with industry groups, research institutions, and not-for-profit organisations, with the aim to create an opportunity for innovation and collaboration across supply chains and to leverage Victoria's design and engineering expertise.
From an operational perspective, the first focus area of the centre will be food and organics, and CEBIC's activities will be supported by an expert advisory group, including of course, Katy Barfield, founder and CEO of Yume Food, who is here with us today.
To mark the launch of the centre, I'm further delighted to be opening the first round of the $10 million Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund. This funding will enable businesses, industry groups and not-for-profit organisations to identify and implement circular economy opportunities and approaches. Additionally, round one of the $2.9 million Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund is also open. These grants will support collaborative partnerships to implement circular economy opportunities, and apply and scale up circular economy business models and practices.
So through Recycling Victoria, we are leading our state towards a prosperous circular economy, turning our waste into a valuable commodity. This 10-year $300 million overhaul of recycling waste management and resource use will ensure smart, clean economic growth. It will deliver more jobs, more value, more opportunity, and a cleaner, safer environment for Victorians. We're supporting councils, businesses and households to change not only our approach to waste, but how we make use and manage the items we rely on every day, and CEBIC will play an integral role in achieving this. So today I ask you all to be inspired and energised by the opportunities and support launched here today, reflect on your own business model, supply chain and network, and think outside the square because together, we can deliver more jobs, more value, more opportunity, and a cleaner, safer environment for Victorians.
So I look forward to answering any questions during the panel discussion. So please submit your questions via the Q&A function. Thank you, each and every one of you.
Claire: Thank you, Minister. Thank you for inspiring us and officially launching CEBIC. We always love a good acronym in government. So CEBIC is the newest one, and Sustainability Victoria is very excited to be leading delivery of this incredible initiative. As the Minister mentioned, if you love hashtag, for this event we've got the hashtag #VicGoesCircular, so place on your social channels to promote the event, and to promote the launch of CEBIC and the Minister just opening two rounds of fantastic grants to support all Victorian business to accelerate [00:10:30] their circular economy transition. As the Minister said, if you have any questions, please add them to the Q&A tab on the right of your video feed.
And I can just announce the results of our first poll are in. The results are showing that 42% of you are pretty familiar with what a circular economy is. 13% are an expert. Well done to all our experts on the call. 7% are new. There's no one on our call today that doesn't know what ‘circular’ means. So it's great to have a diversity. I think what you'll hear from Verónica and Katy today is, we're all on different stages of the circular transition, and that's fantastic about how do we support each other, and today's event is opportunities to accelerate our thinking and accelerate our business models. Our next speaker is joining us all the way from Chile. So I'm going to open our second poll: where are you joining us from? So, please submit your answer.
Our second speaker is Verónica de la Cerda, partner and corporate CEO of TriCiclos, a Chilean certified-B corporation with operations throughout Latin America. TriCiclos are committed to designing and implementing solutions for a circular economy. Welcome, Verónica.
Verónica: Thank you very much, Claire. Thank you all of you for inviting me here. I'm very honoured to be participating in this launch. I would like that funding for ourselves as well. Sounds very interesting. Is it possible for me to apply? But I'm truly honoured to be here and share with you some of what we've been doing here in TriCiclos. We've been working, as Claire mentioned, to implement circular economy solutions, helping not only the private sector, but actually as well the public sector, creating not only the infrastructure, but also the incentives and the conditions that will allow us, right, to move from a linear economy to a more sustainable circular economy.
So let me begin explaining a bit about what we do, how we started, and then what we learned through these years.
We started more than a decade ago with a very clear purpose here in TriCiclos. We only wanted to eliminate the generation of waste. That's simple, and of course, not very easy. We've been doing so here in Chile, where I'm located, and in many other countries in Latin America. Considering that back then, here in Chile and in many other countries, there weren't any EPR systems. There was no systems that actually managed the recyclable waste here in Latin America. We started with a downstream approach. What could we do to help divert those waste streams from landfill – or even nature – towards a more sustainable end?
We implemented these pre-recycling stations located in commercial and public spaces where people could bring their own recyclables, separate them in these spaces, in all the different categories, so then our team could send them directly to the different recycling plants that could, here in Chile, actually process them. We quickly expanded throughout Chile. We also moved to Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica. We're starting now in Mexico as well, and hopefully growing further North, managing now the biggest recycling station network in Latin America.
We had sent more than 40,000 metric tonnes of materials to recycling plants that otherwise would have ended up in landfills in the best-case scenario. But the main purpose of these stations was not to create, was more than just receiving materials. It was actually to create a conversation with consumers, helping them understand the impacts of their consumption habits while they'll separate the materials and as well as learn how could they consume differently, and better, of course.
We are a B corporation, just as Claire mentioned, so the social aspect of what we do is very important. So these stations were also designed to be managed by former waste pickers, giving them a secure space for wanting the formality of their work and highlighting the contribution they can give to our society after decades of experience in this field. In this downstream approach, we also have worked with public sector, not only operating pre-recycling stations actually from them, but also helping local authorities design … and comprehensive recyclable waste management solutions for their territories and connecting better with their citizens in order to promote sustainable habits among them.
We encounter many difficulties, and this year, just as the Minister mentioned, was a very difficult one. COVID-19 forced us to close all of our recycling stations in order to control the pandemic. So we were forced to innovate fast. We couldn't allow all those materials to end up in landfills. So we actually accelerated the creation of a digital platform and app, which allowed us to make the station secure places by controlling access and guaranteeing the sanitary conditions necessary to control the content. But this also presented an opportunity of digitalising the educational component of this station. So that part that for us was super important, we could now do it through this digital solution, providing it right through the app.
Now we have thousands of users. We're adding new features to this app, some of them already developed by ourselves, which is a recyclability index for packaging and also giving people access to a circular marketplace, all designed to help users consume better. But in TriCiclos, we believe waste is a design error. So it is precisely in the designing process where the biggest part of the solution relies on. So in parallel to all this recyclable waste management business, very focused on consumers, we started helping companies to design out waste. We provide them with digital solutions to control and improve the recyclability of their packaging and also measure the impacts of their products along the entire value chain, like lifecycles analysis, for example, et cetera.
Through other innovation-led processes, we help them question their own business models to make them more circular, hopefully moving away even from recycling and stepping into all other layers of circularity. We indeed are moving ahead with a joint venture precisely dedicated to a refillable solution for homecare products that started as a consulting project that we helped this company improve in their packaging, and now they're moving to a chain of stores for refillable solutions through their own products.
We're also helping the delivery industry, trying to put in place a returnable packaging approach – starting from the food delivery – in order to reduce the amount of waste generated through single-use packaging in this industry that is growing and growing, right? Very important now in COVID. We also know that there are many other barriers to implement circularity, and the Minister mentioned them. So you need not only innovation, you need collaboration. You need collaborations through the entire value chain of products, and also with the public sector, to really be able to close the loop of certain materials.
As active participants and promoters of the new plastics economy initiative, for example, from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation we managed to gather key stakeholders of the plastic value team here in Chile around the impacts principles, which led to the first plastic pact here in Latin America, aimed to commit those companies and government to build a sustainable plastic industry and solve the problems caused by plastic waste.
We are starting the same process in Brazil, Colombia, and hopefully soon in Argentina. We're also part of the strategic committee for the Chilean roadmap towards the circular economy led right by the Chilean government, because this is a complex problem to be solved. So we need everyone aligned and on board. TriCiclos and many others, just as Victoria and others here, are working very hard, right? But of course, this is not enough. Just to give you some data, we recently collaborated as experts in the study that was released a couple of months ago called ‘Breaking the Plastic Wave’ from The Pew Charitable Trusts and Systemiq. And we learned that with all current commitments – there are not few – we will only reduce 7% of annual plastic flows that are going to the ocean.
This is one proof that we're definitely not solving this issue yet. We need to pull up that ambition. We need radical collaboration. And also, we need innovation, but meaningful innovation. We need out-of-the-box, socially conscious ideas from all parts of the world, especially the Southern part of it. We need to put the consumer or user hopefully in the centre of the solution and only by doing so, we will be on the right track to put a circular economy in practice and solve this design error that is waste. Thank you very much.
Claire: Thank you, thank you so much, Verónica. That was just incredibly inspiring and there was three key takeaways that I took from your address. ‘Waste is a design error’: I think that's a fantastic thing for us all to think about, it as a design-led circular economy. I love the idea of ‘radical collaboration’ across the whole value chain. And ‘meaningful innovation’, meaningful that it achieves an outcome that we work together to really start to solve some of these incredible dilemmas and design challenges that we have across the value chain.
So thank you so much for your inspiration for us today. Now, I think we might have the results of the poll, in terms of whether they've come in. So I think I'm seeing, well, a lot of people here from metro Melbourne, which is great. And also, welcome all of our regional Victoria, which is… We are not metro-centric, we absolutely love everyone that lives in the state of Victoria. And also, exciting to see so many people across Australia and our overseas colleagues as well. So thank you for joining us today.
Now we're going to transition to a panel discussion, and I see many of you are submitting your questions through our Q&A function. I encourage you to continue to do that and to like questions that you agree with, and I'll be looking at that as we go through the panel discussion.
I'll welcome back on the screen, the Honourable Minister D'Ambrosio and Verónica, together with our very own local circular hero, Katy Barfield.
Katy will be known to many of you. She was the founding CEO of SecondBite in 2012, and then in 2015 created Yume Food Australia, Australia's first surplus food online marketplace. As CEO of Yume Food Australia, she's leading the charge in preventing food waste and returning millions of dollars to Australian farmers and manufacturers. As the Minister just announced, Katy is also one of the founding members of the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre’s expert advisory group.
So, Katy, to kickstart our panel discussion: circularity is at the heart of your business, Yume Food Australia. What lessons have you learned about having a circular mindset as your business has grown and evolved?
Katy: Hello, everyone. Thank you for having me. I'm so inspired this morning. What a way to start a Friday morning. It's interesting because ‘circular economy’ was a catchphrase that wasn't even in the vernacular when I started out sort of 14, 15 years ago. It's so exciting to hear these amazing catchphrases now that roll off the tongue, like ‘radical innovation’, which I too wrote down. But what I saw initially was, I really saw, I saw waste. I saw inefficiency. I saw damaging environmental practices. But I think more than anything, I just saw an opportunity.
Here in Victoria, there's 2.4 million tonnes of food that goes to waste every single year. That's the equivalent of about 250 semi-trailers of food that go to waste every day, and that is a $6 billion opportunity. So one of my favourite things about the circular economy is that you can actually do well and do good. We can make financially viable business practice whilst also making sound environmental choices.
But I think you asked me what was one of the things that I've learned on this journey, and this might sound bizarre, but one of the major things I've learned is that, a quick ‘no’ is a good ‘no’. So by that, I mean, even though our proposition at Yume is very, very compelling, you've got to remember that not everybody will be ready to hear your message. So my message to everyone is, don't be discouraged by that. We have spent time knocking on the doors of companies where we can see we can make a massive difference. We've seen the waste reports. We know how we can commercialise that. We can move that food further up the food waste hierarchy. But sometimes people are just not ready to hear your message. So don't burn the energy and the time and the resources. Move on because there will be plenty of people who are ready to hear your message. So don't lose faith.
This is incredibly exciting, to be part of CEBIC and to see Victoria really leading the charge and that Minister D'Ambrosio is behind us all the way. It's just fabulous.
Claire: Thank you so much, Katy. So, the Minister, as Verónica said, I think she wants to become a Victorian all the way from Chile, in terms of the incredible opportunities that the Victorian Government is creating. Recycling Victoria obviously is bold and has very ambitious targets. What do you see the role of sort of the business community to contribute to achieving these targets?
Lily: Well, the role of business and industry is really at the centre of us achieving our goals. When you have a think about it, we've got a target of reducing or cutting back on our waste generation by 15% per capita by 2030. You have to think about all the ways that each of us as consumers in Victoria interact, and a part of the creation of waste.
Certainly, businesses are at the heart of making it easier and as easy as possible for Victorian consumers to actually make the right choices and make the right decisions. So we know of course, businesses themselves, all throughout the variety of ways that businesses are involved in the economy – construction, demolition activities, businesses, industry, manufacturers – collectively, they generate about 80% of the total amount of waste that's generated in Victoria. So that of itself rings the bells and says, "Well, that's an obvious area for major uplift and major change towards meeting our targets." So if we're able to help those businesses improve efficiency, they can avoid a lot more waste and help to achieve our targets.
But businesses can also help to influence, of course, the amount of waste that is generated by households. That can go to the issues like designing out your errors, as Verónica labelled it, in terms of design of products and the services that are provided. So being more clever in the way that designs are, by building in a reduction of waste and the principles of reuse and recycling will go such a long way to actually meeting our targets. So designing, selling products that last longer, can be reused and repaired, and by reducing packaging – packaging is one of those massive contributors to plastics that end up in our environment – all of those approaches can really help consumers who really, by and large, do want to do the right thing and do want to be part of the solution. It will make it far easier for them to help us meet those targets, and all of us demonstrating by real examples and in tangible ways how we can all collaborate to get those targets and get that reduction in waste and really moving to that circular economy.
Claire: Thank you, Minister. A question for you, Verónica. It's great to get insights, and the title of event today is really about translate being global exemplars to local perspectives. Given we have so many people in the call from Victoria, I'm sure they'd be incredibly interested to know, what are the industries or sectors in Latin America that are leading the adoption of innovative circular business models?
Verónica: Oh, Claire, it's a tough question because we're not necessarily doing very good in a general perspective, right? I have to say that probably the ones that are leading the process are multinationals that are committed to a lot of things that are way much ambitious than what our governments are actually asking those companies to achieve. So as sad as that makes me, I would have to say that those industries or those companies are the ones leading. You have the Coca-Colas, the Walmarts, the Unilevers that actually are key players in the circular economy, right? Because as the Minister mentioned, packaging is a huge contributor to the problems of this linear economy in terms of plastic pollution and waste in general. So unfortunately, yes, we have that lack, that gap, right, between what the multinationals and the local companies are doing.
But of course, we have some companies moving ahead. So we have here in Chile and also in Brazil, we have come out with a lot of companies trying to move, and this is probably the ones that we've encountered the most, are in the consumer goods. So we work a lot with, for example, Natura, which is a cosmetic company in Brazil that was born very sustainable, and now of course has a lot to do with moving towards a circular economy. It is doing a lot of things among those lines. So consumer goods are probably the ones that are moving more quickly.
Then we are starting to see some innovations in fashion, which is very important because as well is a very important contributor to the problems of waste. And we are seeing new and very interesting moves in agriculture too. So when you're talking about circular economy, we tend to focus a lot on the technical aspect of circular economy chart, like materials, right? Metals, plastics, et cetera.
But then you have all these other part, which is the organic part, right, of all that we actually consume or even you use in other ways. So we're seeing regeneration as a concept that is starting to get a bit more, I don't know, action. Because we not only need to tackle this problem and avoid or reduce the negative impacts that we're generating over the environment, but actually, we need to create positive value, right? We need to create, regenerate our soil and our environment, because the problems of the climate crisis are huge. So it’s… we have little time for that.
So probably there, in those two sectors, you have new things coming up, and the ones that should be probably moving much faster are mining sector – very important for Australia, as well as for Chile – and the construction sector as well. You have a huge problem there. So those two sectors should be start moving faster than they are now.
Claire: Thank you so much for, Verónica. I'm now going to divert to some of the questions that those of you have asked for the panel. The first one, I'm going to possibly take, in terms of, there's a question from Gerard around, why is the Victorian Government policy called the ‘Recycling Victoria’ policy? And I think a really…Well, I say my response to that is, a key platform of the Victorian policy is to transform and work towards the goal of a recycling service that every Victorian can rely on. As many of you on the call would be aware, there's been some challenges in the waste and resource recovery sector in Victoria. So that is a key transformation reform of part of the policy, is to look at that every Victorian has access to a four-bin service. And there's a key focus in terms of, as you might've seen on TV and radio recently, about reducing contamination in the recycling bin. As the Minister said, lots of Victorians want to do the right thing, but don't know what to do and don't have the right information in terms of what should and what should not go in the recycling bin.
So I'm going to use that as a bit of a segue to ask the Minister, and then I'll ask Katy: what's the role of education and behaviour change in the circular economy? So over to you, Minister, just to start with.
Lily: Thank you, Claire. Education is absolutely critical. People often just in a home understand what products that they consume, any leftovers that might be, how do you recycle? And can often end up being a very frustrating situation. So education is really, really critical, and helping Victorians to understand that every decision, every choice they make can actually contribute to an ongoing problem, or it can actually help to alleviate and be part of the solution.
I think education is really critical to make those right choices. As I said earlier, Claire, people do want to do the right thing on the whole. We need to make it easier for them to make those choices. Education is also about getting communities to understand more broadly how working together can actually uplift the outcomes that they can achieve. Individuals can achieve a lot. Collaboration through community effort – whether it's a community in the local town or whether it's a community in a workplace or community at home or in a school – can actually give you that extra lift towards getting the outcomes that we want to achieve.
That really goes to the importance of CEBIC: bringing together the community of businesses and industry together through collaboration with research partners and the like to really help to share great experiences, great solutions, but also problems, looking for solutions to come forward so that in its own organic way can actually play a really strong, educated role, but also backed by real solutions and potentially of course strong funding that has been made available from our government.
Claire: Thank you, Minister. Food waste is the priority focus area for the first year of CEBIC. I know at Sustainability Victoria, we've run a number of behaviour change campaigns. One was called ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ and the other one was ‘Love a List’. Because what we learned through behavioural insights is that you can significantly reduce food waste if people write a list before they go shopping. So I'm interested, Katy, a question for you in terms of you've been actively involved in thinking about circular food waste and how to eliminate food waste for the last decade in your businesses, have you seen a change in the Victorian community about understanding that there is a food waste issue, or do you think there is. What's your feeling about the role of education?
Katy: Look, it’s, I think it's incredibly important. I can talk about it. Obviously, the Minister did a great job of talking about it from a consumer level. o if we go further upstream to business, to manufacturers, the people that make and grow our food, the wonderful thing about circular economy is there's so much opportunity. I think education, as far as seeing waste as an unfortunate necessity of doing business, that's what we need to change. It's not an unfortunate necessity of doing business: it's actually a massive opportunity.
I can give you an example this brings to mind, and that would be here in Victoria where we've got some fantastic berry growers. There's this mindset around wanting to have whole berries. Even if they're frozen, we want them whole. Even if we're going to put them in a blender, we want them whole. Why do we want them whole? But as a part of the picking process, a lot of the berries, they all crumb, and there'll be this sort of pulp at the bottom. Currently, the practice of that is, most of that goes to waste. But what we see is, by putting that onto a platform and giving visibility to it, a very innovative brewer here has actually used some of those berries in what they deem to be a ‘purple rain beer’ – which I tasted, it was delicious – and used it as an input.
So I think the message to business is: wherever you're procuring product, have a look at what is actually available and from that circular economy principles. Wherever you have a waste output, there is opportunity to move, certainly in the food industry, that product further up. There is definitely opportunity within your business today. It's just a question of having a look.
Claire: Thank you, Katy. I think there's a question here from Chelsea, and I'm going to ask Verónica this. Do you have examples of radical collaboration?
Verónica: You know what? Most of the projects that we've done require collaboration, because in order to actually close the loop of certain materials, you need to engage different parts. It's funny because when I talk about the value chains, I tend to do a circle because my mind is ‘circular’ already, right? But you have to get all those pieces together. So what we're doing now precisely in these pre-recycling stations, we are starting to pilot the potential circularity of certain materials. For that, we of course need collaboration between different parts of the value chain.
So for example, right to date, we launched this project where we are in these recycling stations receiving pizza packaging. I said, "It's nothing that innovative." Right? But it's a huge deal because the pizza packaging, you cannot divert it to recycling because it is actually contaminated, but you could do part of it to recycling plants and part of it to composting plants.
So we did an alliance between a big pizza chain. I'm not going to say the name, but or maybe yes. I don't know if you know it. It's Papa John's. So we are working with Papa John's, with one of the biggest composting plants here in Santiago, with a retailer, right – where you have actually set up all these recycling, like receiving stations for these recyclable or composting packaging – and ourselves, and the municipality. So you have all those players working together in order to somehow make it feasible to that particular product – which is very popular, right, because the pizza consumption probably have risen in these latest months – in order to make that loop actually close.
So sometimes, something that is not necessarily super innovative also requires a lot of people together in order to make it happen. If we wouldn't have the retailer, it wouldn't be very hard to find this spot where a lot of people could actually bring things and at the same time do other stuff, right? Because people normally bring their stuff because they're going to buy something, right? So you find the perfect location. Then you need the municipality because you need the education, you need to broadcast this, you need to communicate it. Because you can have the perfect solution but if no one knows, then it doesn't serve a thing. Then you need the either recycling plant or the composting plant, because this is not necessarily still very profitable. So you need to gather everyone because there is no value still in all those things. So you need to put all of them together in order to achieve the scale needed to then come up with the value, et cetera. So that is one example. I hope it serves.
Claire: Thank you, Verónica. I think I've got a question here. There was a few questions on the screen about infrastructure. So I might ask this question of the Minister – in terms of, in the Recycling Victoria policy, infrastructure is part of the value chain and in terms of how the initiatives that are in the current policy, in terms of incentives for new infrastructure or new ways of thinking.
Lily: Yes. Thank you, Claire. I mean, infrastructure is really critical. I mean, we've touched on a number of issues, but certainly infrastructure is one of those areas that we've realised as a state we need to be not just more front-footed if you like, in terms of creating incentives, providing financial support for businesses and local governments to establish infrastructure to grow the opportunity to turn materials into higher-value products. But it's also where the infrastructure is located is really, really critical.
If we're thinking about the miles travelled for materials moving from where the ‘waste’, if you like, is created to where it needs to go to be changed in terms of additional value, then infrastructure is really, really critical here. So for example, one of the key objectives that we've got as a state is not just of course, putting significant dollars into improving the infrastructure for sorting and then of course, reprocessing, but identifying opportunities and enabling local communities, especially in regional Victoria, to do more of that within their own regions.
So you're actually taking trucks and the mileage that comes out of that, and, of course, the emissions that get generated through travelling thousands of kilometres to move materials away to more localised solutions. That includes also helping local economies to develop up their own local circular economy policies, and the infrastructure funding will provide a great uplift to that.
So that's something that we're very excited about, and we can see already that there's some significant funds and opportunities through programs that are available to get that infrastructure built.
Claire: Thank you, Minister. I think there's been a common theme through this panel discussion around what I would call ‘the circular mindset’, which is where there is no waste. And we are only talking about resources in terms of what's at the start of the value chain and what's at the end, and the opportunities for all of those resources to be used. So I'm interested, and this is at the heart of CEBIC in terms of thinking about design across the whole value chain of consumerism is, it has no geographic bias.
I think, as the Minister said, there is incredible opportunities for local-based solutions across Victoria. So I'm interested – I'll start with you, Katy. For any business in Victoria that's starting to think about how they could adopt a circular mindset or a circular business model, what's your advice, in terms of what's the first step?
Katy: Well, I think it mirrors what all the panellists have said today, which is, don't do it alone. Find people, like-minded people that can help you on your journey. When I think about Yume and our progression, we couldn't have done it without the collaboration of government, without the collaboration of other businesses, without the collaboration of not-for-profits. We just simply would not be where we are today. So I can't stress the importance of this enough.
When we started out, we were looking at – we were such a small fish in a very, very big pond, looking to escape being eaten by sharks sometimes. And we partnered with one of the largest waste companies in the world, because instead of fighting against them, it's about finding those intrapreneurs in other companies.
So that would be my other suggestion: don't underestimate the power of one person, even in a large company, to create change. In fact, that's the only thing that ever has created change: it’s people with passion wanting to do something differently. We're seeing that with the people talking today. So don't do it alone. Find passionate intrapreneurs and don't give up.
Claire: Thanks, Katy, so much. That's incredibly helpful, and it's at the heart of CEBIC. It’s really around partnerships, about creating new partnerships. Some people could call it ‘business-speed dating’. But it's trying to find people that you might not know you have a connection with, but through a conversation you realise there's opportunities to work together.
Verónica, over to you. Same question: what's your advice in terms of how businesses could either start their circular transition, or if they're already on it, what sort of other things that they can think about?
Verónica: Thanks, Claire. I couldn't agree more with Katy. And super inspirational, right? That is very, very true.
I could only add that, when we're talking about circular economy, or designing out waste, or using better resources, or reducing the impact, we need to start talking about data. For example, that in Latin America is a huge gap that we have. We don't necessarily have reliable information and data. So what we should do, we should start measuring ourselves, and really understand and quantify, "Okay. Look, this is the amount of impact that my product actually generates." Right?
Then I can start picking up where to start putting different solutions, because if you don't measure things, then it's a lot of solutions that are very... How do you say? With very good intentions. But then once you realise that what they are actually going to create, sometimes all these good intentions are intended to a solution that could even be worse than the previous thing that you have, because sometimes it gets very technical.
So when you're doing a lifecycle analysis and et cetera, you need to gather a lot of information and understand a lot of things before really committing to a more sustainable solution. So don't be afraid of measuring your impact. Probably you will be surprised of the amount of impact that you generate. But that's not a problem because then you can start solving this data based on science, right? This is the same thing as with climate change.
Claire: Thanks, Verónica. I am going to have to ask the Minister the last question, because I know that she loves data, and she absolutely loves evidence-based decision-making. So just, Minister, a question for you in terms of the role of data in Recycling Victoria policy.
Lily: Yes, Claire is right. Thank you. I do love data. But data is irrefutable. Data is what enables you to... It gives you that important foundation for arguing your point of policy design and wherein how investment decisions can be made and where they should be targeted. Yes, I am absolutely a fan of data for governments that always have scarce resources. Businesses have scarce resources. And you need to know and be well-informed for the decisions that you make, knowing that they are the best way, they will get you the best outcome for the investment decision that you...
Victoria and all of Australia really have not been served very well for a lack of sufficient and adequate data in terms of the way materials move right throughout our economy, and it is about how much is lost. But we can also end up in a situation where we can establish a whole range of really great targets for working towards, that drive our investments. We really can't be absolutely confident that those choices and decisions that have been made are actually working.
So one of the key underpinnings of our investment, to have the success of our action plan, is to ensure that we've got an economy-wide, adequate data collection system in place, that can be accessed certainly by decision-makers – whether they are decision-makers in government, whether they are the decision-makers in businesses – so that we can actually understand fully and therefore apply the right solutions based on that data. Data has to drive the investment. It has to drive the behaviour change.
One of the worst aspects of, where sometimes governments or businesses can go wrong is that when they don't have the sufficient data and then things go wrong because they’re not used to actually, that data isn't used to drive your decision-making. Then you actually have a great risk of losing social licence. If you lose social licence, you lose confidence in the community. So that's absolutely vital. So we'll be requiring through a dedicated legislation that underpins circular economy, is underpinned by circular economy principles, investment dollars, $9.5 million towards modernising our waste data systems, but also requiring of businesses and the recycling sector if you like, the production of data so that we can report against the movement of materials through the economy in a way that optimises the... well, understands the opportunities more better, but also optimises the solutions and the investment dollars that follow from them.
Claire: Thank you, Minister. Well, thank you, Minister D'Ambrosio, Verónica, and Katy, for your time and insights today. It has been an inspiring conversation. As we said at the start of this, it's a gift for the four of us to have a chat about such an exciting opportunity in terms of transitioning and accelerating our transition to a circular economy. Thank you to you, our audience.
As a wrap-up, we've got a third and final poll, which will be on the screen, in terms of which industry or sector are you involved with? This might be your own organisation, those that you are maybe collaborating with, or your field of study. You can enter more than one answer, and we'll definitely use this data to drive CEBIC in terms of who's engaged with the launch today and to follow up sort of going forward. But most importantly, I just want to thank you for the gift of time, the gift of your time to share this hour with us this morning.