Construction, economics and resource availability

Video transcript

Text: Victoria’s Big Build. EcologiQ Greener Infrastructure Conference 2022. Victoria State Government.

Professor Tim Flannery:

Well welcome back everyone, I hope you had a great morning tea and got to speak with each other and see a little bit of what's going on in the hall next door.

I’ll just say this, there’s a very crowded room today we've got lots of people, we’ve brought in extra chairs, but could I encourage you to come and sit in these front seats, there's plenty of free seats down at the front here and we're not as scary as we might appear up here on the stage, so jump in and fill up those seats.

I'd like to now introduce our next panel, in this session we'll be discussing the economics of change, the financial, environmental and economic perspectives on resource scarcity, supply chain disruptions, and material availability, and how this is changing the future of infrastructure.

The panel will be moderated by Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer at the Office of Projects Victoria and will be joined by Dr Heinz Schandl, who is the Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy Hub, an expert member of the UN International Resources Panel and Research Group Leader at CSIRO; and Jon Davies, the CEO of the Australian Constructors Association; Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia; and Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Associate Principal, EY Port Jackson Partners and UN International Resource Panel member.

So please welcome them all to the stage, thank you.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Tim, great turnout today.

Just firstly, congratulate the event organisers for such a great turnout and for everyone attending here on such an important topic, it's really good to see this level of interest in such an important area.

Before we begin the panel discussion I'd like to warmly welcome Heinz.

Heinz is going to share an opening presentation before we are joined by all panel members a bit of a Q&A on this subject, so thank you Heinz.

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

Yeah, good morning.


So I've been asked to talk for about six minutes on the issues I have worked on 20 years, so I'll make this very fast.

Text: IPCC, IPBES, International Resource Panel.

All of you have seen the IPCC and IPBES reports, not so familiar perhaps with the International Resource Panel.

We're in the middle of an opportunity let's put it like this, the pressure points are aligning in unprecedented ways.

Text: Systems dynamic of modern society.

We are operating a system in which we have positively coupling between our economic activity, the understanding of quality of life for human wellbeing, and the material and energy metabolism, the amount of materials and energy we use in carbon emissions we produce, the only problem is the natural resource use and pollution that comes with our economic pattern.

We do have policies to deal with all of this, the most straightforward is traditional pollution control, but we're also talking about the way in which we can decouple our economic activities from the increasing environmental pressures and impacts.

Text: Policies to reduce natural resource use and emissions.

For a long time we didn't know globally what is actually our impact on natural resources on the planet.

Text: Global Resources Outlook 2019.

The International Resource Panel, of which I have been a member for about 10 years now together with Steve, in 2019 has produced a first International report which looks at the amount of materials that we are using globally.

Text: Global material extraction tripled between 1970 and 2020.

When you look at this since the 1970s we have increased the extraction of materials, all kinds of materials, biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and non-metallic minerals, by about by about 300% so they tripled from 30 billion tonnes so now at around 100 billion tonnes.

Australia plays kind of a prominent role in natural resources globally.

Text: Top-10 primary material producers in 2019.

When you look at the top-10 primary material producers, we are in the top-10, but on per capita level we are actually leading 100 tonnes per person every year.

When you look at exports we are even in a position that nobody can beat, we are the largest material supplier globally through our exports both in per capita and absolute values, far ahead of the Russian Federation, the United States, China and other countries.

Now every tonne of material that we use comes with an environmental impact.

Text: Impacts of material use on environment and health.

And the thing we calculated in the resource panel is that 50% of global climate impacts, and 90% of biodiversity impacts, actually come from the early stages of resource extraction.

Text: Projected 2060 compared to 2015 ‘Historical Trends’.

Business-as-usual would mean that we would double the materials we use globally by 2060, we would further increase greenhouse gas emissions, we would use more extensive lands, and reduce forests and other natural habitat further.

Text: Project ‘Towards Sustainability’ in comparison to ‘Historical Trends’.

We modelled it towards sustainability scenario working with international partners using the best available models, and could actually show that we can decrease a global material consumption by about 25% by 2060.

But the policies we're thinking about are quite radical and haven't been tested anywhere.

So for example shifting the taxation loads from labour to primary materials, in other words an ecological budget and tax reform, that would allow us to also meet the climate targets, at least a likelihood to stay within two degrees less agricultural and intensively used land, and more land for biodiversity.

This comes with an economic benefit and what we find over and over when we do our economic and biophysical analysis, is that an economic strategy based on resource efficiency actually delivers superior outcomes economically over the long-term.

But even in the short-term we have many economically attractive options for resource efficiency through circular economy and net-zero.

So last slide almost through, when you think about the sustainable development goals and especially SCG-12 on sustainable production and consumption, in the 10 years framework of programs at the UN, we're looking at the equal efficiency of production and what we can do in consumption procurement, but the most important aspects is the infrastructure sector.

Text: Transition to net-zero and circular.

Construction, housing, transport, and mobility agriculture and food, the energy system as we all know, a large asset-based systems, they use a lot of infrastructure, and in fact 60% of the global material used is actually directly relatable to infrastructure, so here's our opportunity.

If our infrastructure becomes more flexible, more long-lived, we're in a much better place.

Like for example, the central building of the CSIRO in Canberra which is a 100 years old, it's not the best building but at least it has had a long life.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Heinz, great presentation we'll.

I'll start up with a few questions, but please use the Slido app to ask your own questions and we'll get on to some audience participation questions soon.

Great presentation Heinz.

I'll start off with a question to yourself, and then moving through the panel members, how is infrastructure and construction currently primed to respond to these issues?

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

Good question.

I certainly don't have a better answer than anyone in the room.

What I would say is learn from examples that we can actually get internationally.

So we can work on the longevity of our build infrastructure, we can look at our urban design, different outcomes in terms of the materiality of the infrastructure, the carbon intensity, carbon embodiment.

When you think about it, studies show that especially the infrastructure in the southern hemisphere, the the second wave or third wave of urbanisation, is going to use up 75% of the remaining carbon budget, so there's your opportunity builds infrastructure.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Heinz.

Jon, I guess with the overwhelming spend on infrastructure, we're talking about what $50 billion a year across Australia, $20 billion in Victoria, from the Australian Contractors Association point of view what do you think about this issue?

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

Look I think there's an enormous opportunity here.

We as an industry, unfortunately a lot of the time we're told down to the enth degree how to do things, and I think there's a real desire amongst contractors to innovate, broadly speaking, but especially in the environmental sustainability space.

But I think we're working with one hand, if not two hands, tied behind our back in terms of the specifications that come out to market in this space, that tell us right down to the last nut and bolt how we have to construct things, that if we really want to see some progress in this area we need to move from this high degree of prescription around detail to more performance-based specifications that just seek to achieve, or set an outcome and leave it to the contractor and to the designers, and to the engineers, to come up with the best solutions to achieve that.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Jon.

I guess one for Engineers Australia and the and the Chief Engineer Jane, performance-based specs versus what's written in contracts?

Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia:

Yeah thanks Luke.

Look I couldn't agree more with Jon.

I have a defence background and we actually worked with a combination, I worked on a program for eight years from basically the beginning of a project, almost a blank page, through to production, it was a complex program so it took about eight years, we very much worked on a performance-based specification system, but where there was a need for standards, such as safety, sometimes material specifications, they were built into it as well so it was a little bit of a hybrid approach and accounted for both but it absolutely allowed for innovation,

We were working on systems that hadn't been designed before, hadn't been produced before, were you know breaking new ground it was leading edge, and I think that's what we need to be doing in infrastructure.

To allow that to happen you've got to allow, provide enough latitude and the constraints in which engineers and other professions are working to allow that innovation to happen.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Yeah thanks Jane.

Steve, in your view what do these factors mean for Australia and Victoria’s economy and why is this important?

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Associate Principal, EY Port Jackson Partners:

So it’s crucial and essential, so infrastructure is a sleeping giant, infrastructure is the rate limiting factor and the turnover in infrastructure, so you know if you go to Europe you travel on roads and freeways that mimic pathways that were set down in Roman times, because we upgrade them but we rarely shift them, though occasionally like running over small towns and putting freeways in, so it’s central to the opportunity.

So I live in Canberra, and until recently in Canberra you couldn't choose to catch light rail to work because there is no light rail.

So infrastructure frames the choice set of actors in society it's crucial for that reason.

But also, because infrastructure typically happens at scale, it allows this sort of innovation that is much harder to achieve at smaller scales.

So I would probably, background in economics, put in and opt out for an outcomes base, so you issue a specification based tender with an option to provide a different option for firms that have the capacity to do that, because if a firm comes up with a good option that wins they can replicate that, you know, the infrastructure locations will vary but the engineering menu is repeatable and so they get a return on their investment on the innovation.

So that's how I would proceed, but to allow that differentiation, and then you need good governance to make sure that the proposals are being well scrutinised in ways that protect the sort of the commercial IP of the firms making the proposals.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

I thought you might have something to say Jon.

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

Yeah look, sorry I couldn't leave that one alone.

What we do, what we find our members do find, is that we do exactly as you're saying Steve, we spend many millions of dollars at tenders putting together alternative designs, alternative proposals, only for the highly conservative delivery agency folk, sorry if there's some of you in the room here today, who go have we done this in the last 30 years, no, well no sorry we're not going to look at that.

We really need to see some change in clients in terms of their receptiveness to try these things.

You know, innovations about doing something new, it's not doing something that's been done in the last 30 years, so if we want to see innovation we've got to be prepared to try new stuff, and yes, you know, in terms of infrastructure it is a conservative space rightly so because we don't want bridges to fail, we don't want roads to fail, but we've really got to tackle this particular issue if we're going to see any improvement.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Jon.

And I'd say on the project delivery agency I feel like there's room for a response, but I'd say that there is always risk when you're changing structures, when you're changing what you're prescribing, and that risk needs to be managed somehow, so it doesn't end up with perverse outcomes.

So Heinz, you raised a good point in your presentation, could you expand on the proposal to shift taxation from labour to materials and what this would mean for infrastructure?

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

Yeah, so when you look at the global trend for the last 50 years we've seen constant improvements in labour productivity because the system has been set up in that way.

Energy efficiency, energy productivity, has been catching up a bit through a number of shocks, like the oil shocks in the 1980s, but resource productivity has lingered.

Globally resource productivity has actually been going backwards since about the year 2000, which has a lot to do with the infrastructure built up in countries like India or the Asian community, but also the whole system is geared towards that way because most of the taxation load is actually on labour, and there's almost no taxation, or inclusion of cost for primary resources or the environmental externalities that come with the primary resources.

So what would an ecological budget and tax reform mean?

You shift some of the tax load away from labour and you put them on resources at the point of extraction.

But what that does, it also shifts the opportunities because now you can look at using, for example in a single family build, you use more labour to achieve your outcomes, and you can do that because labour cost is not such a tremendous aspect of your overall costs.

That would change the dynamics with which the system is operated, but if I may quickly add something, the thing that you mentioned is also important, at the moment we are looking, in the whole development process, land sale, construction, we're looking just at economic values, so there are no outcome definitions that deal with sustainability properly.

But if they did then we would see the change that you're talking about.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Heinz.

So this question's from Andrew, so how do we address additional costs of production in the recycled product supply chain in a budget constrained infrastructure program?

And I'll open this up to all the panel, potentially starting with Jane.

Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia:

I was looking at that question hoping I wouldn't be first.

Look I don't think there's a simple or easy answer to that.

I think we're in a transitionary time where this is going to be hard because we're adjusting to new ways of working, and new ways of thinking, and new ways of procuring, and new ways of sourcing materials.

So for the next 5-10-15 years it's going to be hard but then it's going to get easier.

I I think the best answer is that it just starts with the planning, we've got to build it into the planning, and the procurement, and the contracting, and the very early design processes so that the costs and all the associated processes are built into it.

For programs which are already underway I guess there's contingency funds but planning, as much planning as you can do as early on in the process, I think can avoid the problem of increase and unforeseen costs.

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Associate Principal, EY Port Jackson Partners:

I'd also just note that basically don't always accept the framing of the question.

So I work across public and private sector and both sides are much better understanding costs and value, so there's a motive for doing this, we need to articulate the value proposition so you can then, in effect relax the budget constraint to explain why spending a little bit more is delivering hugely more value, because normal people, voters, taxpayers actually care a lot about value and the cost to them, they won't even notice the difference to be frank.

So we really need to go back to that first principles why are we doing this, how do we articulate the value proposition, and then I think the other stuff will flow, the constraints will loosen.

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

Yeah, I'm going to balance up my disagreement with Steve last time around with a wholehearted agreement this time around.

It is all about value and defining value.

We simply look at value far too often just through the lens of lowest possible price when there's often, especially from a government perspective, a whole range of different things that really constitute value.

Environmental sustainability could be one, sovereign capability could be another, diversity and inclusion, indigenous engagement, you know, there's a whole range of things there that we need to start to really put some weighting on when we're assessing bids for projects.

And there's a couple of pieces of work that are happening in this space, thankfully Construction Industry Leadership Forum which is ourselves, NSW government, Victorian Government and Queensland Government, are working on a guidance note around value for money which is actually being led by the Victorian Treasury funnily enough so there's no excuse there for them to back away from that at a later date.

And also I've just got to get a shameful plug-in as well were at the Jobs and Skills Summit last week and we believe that the Federal Government has got a role to play here in terms of the money that they invest into infrastructure, either directly through the National Partnership Agreement or indirectly through other funding mechanisms, to drive change in these areas and to really put some incentivisation around change in these areas.

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

I think also if I may add, when you look at costs from a project to project base, you limit yourself considerably, because when you think about the delivery of a whole portfolio of infrastructure over a long period of time, and you put into account the longevity of the infrastructure which includes flexibility because otherwise you can't get longevity, you get very different outcomes.

So if we did that more often I think we're in a better place in that regard.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Yeah thanks Heinz.

Great discussion on value and value for money, and I guess it's something that is very much in the view of the stakeholder in getting that right, a good balance is always good otherwise you may be criticised for gold-plating or doing nothing, and not enough, so yes good discussion.

I guess to help sort of overcome those barriers, what sort of suggestions would you have for those project delivery agencies or contractors getting into this space?

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

You’re look at me.

I'm in your position now wishing I wasn't going first.

Look I think the government, it's that framework around value for money and really putting some weighting behind that, so it's not just saying we want improved sustainability outcomes, we want improved diversity and inclusion outcomes, and then when the tenders come through the tender box and there are some options around that and it may not be the cheapest price, don't keep reverting back to the cheapest price because guess what, we'll stay exactly where we are.

We need to really put our money where our mouths are from a delivery agency perspective, and from a contractor's perspective, you know, I think absolutely there's more that we can do but we are really keen as an industry to advance in this area, but it's a case of untying up the arms that are tied behind our back to the point I was baking earlier.

Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia:

I was just going to make one more comment about the value conversation which I think is really important.

Often the value and the benefits are quite a long way downstream, so there's a lag in the system, a time lag in the system, before those are realised, and we see that often with the argument around registration of professional engineers, which I think becomes relevant in the design and other aspects of infrastructure projects.

It may cost a little bit to register professional engineers but the downstream benefits are lower cost of rework and so forth.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Yeah, I’ll do a shameful plug there too, we're currently seeing 5,300 Victorian registered engineers, we're sort of getting a trickle of 120-80 a week.

This is important because on the 1st of October structural and civil engineers will be mandatory to be registered if you're providing professional engineering services, okay, shameful plug over.

Back to the topic, so what are the biggest barriers to resourcing in an environmental responsible and economic way?

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

What of the biggest barriers?

One of the barriers is that environmental externalities are not costed in, so we're not asking what's the cost of the greenhouse gas impact?

I'd like also to talk a little bit more about the residential sector, so when we think infrastructure we often think big road projects, big buildings in cities, but 70% to 80% of our buildings is residential houses.

The standard that we can achieve in residential housing is generally very poor.

There is a role for government and governance in that sector.

There's also a role for skills and an upskilling of the people who work in that sector.

There is an issue of how quickly can they actually adapt and catch up with what is needed in regard to new technologies, innovation, new materials and new production technologies avoiding waste, reducing emissions including reducing embodied emissions, that's not going to come through the curriculum very quickly so we need new models for how we can prepare them for on the job training, learning from each other and so on and so forth.

So that's in my view an area where we often don't talk enough.

Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia:

I think two of the biggest barriers, I think Heinz you alluded to one, is education and training and just awareness.

So I think there's a huge role to play in micro credentials which we hear a lot about, providing people with the skills but also the need to collaborate, so general awareness is higher.

But I think another barrier is verification of environmentally responsible materials and practices, and I think this is a fascinating area, you know, how do we vouch for materials and their source, what's their provenance, what is their material passport, how can Blockchain technology help in that regard, and I'd love to hear if any of the other panellists or people in the audience have worked with Blockchain on material provenance and so forth.

So how do we verify and validate the source materials and account for the embodied carbon in the, what can be very complex processes from getting materials out of the ground through to the end product, and then as we heard from the earlier panel unmade and then remade into new things?

I think that is going to be a really interesting new area as we progress this.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Yeah product stewardship is a very interesting area.

I remember being a lowly engineer checking material certificates and wondering if this could be trusted, and a lot of the time company policy was no, we can't just trust we'll use the old Russian saying trust but verify, and get a third party to review and verify.

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

So I take the material passports as a keyword.

There will be massively important, I believe in the Australian context, when you think about our current economy we operate at the start and at the end of the materials lifecycle, we produce the resources for global use and then we purchase finished products which will obviously come with an environmental impact, but they end up is waste here in Australia.

For our primary sector the question really is, with what kind of information do these materials enter the global supply chain to even be fit for a material passport which would be used in Japan, in China, in Europe, who have all more developed policies?

But the other important aspect is as we build our sovereign manufacturing capability, which we should, and there are lots of programs which point in that direction, we're also starting to address some of the questions which came up on the screen, for example for local council, if you have now to use secondary materials how is that going to work?

And we can go back to the keynotes of the morning, and the panel in the morning, that is exactly what you can do locally, or regionally, when you start to pool your resources, when you stop to talk about waste but you talk about materials management and how you avoid those materials to become waste, and you're starting to see that most of the materials that are used in construction activities should actually not be transported long distance.

So a lot should actually happen locally, and so there are endless opportunity I think in that space, also for regional development and regional jobs.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Heinz.

A question from Poppy in the audience, so what role does a project delivery model play in facilitating and delivering the innovations you're all saying we need?

We’ll potentially start with Steve.

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, Associate Principal, EY Port Jackson Partners:

So I'll come at this from an angle, so I'm sitting here reflecting that we're talking about a circular economy.

All systems involve flows of materials, energy and information, and for what we want to achieve the information flow is actually the most important, and getting circularity of information so we understand what's going on and we get feedback back through the system and don't assume where we're starting from is actually in the right place.

So, you know, in one of the earlier conversations you talked about the risk of change without thinking about the risk of not changing for example, so I think any delivery approach can work but it needs to be thoughtful and open to innovation, and that will often start with mandate.

So I work a lot in the sort of climate space where net-zero is a concept that's not very well understood but it's a concept which is really good at motivating, and I think the same is true of the notion of circularity which again is probably not very understood but it's easy to get a mandate that then allows you to innovate.

And I can use an example I sharing with Tim before I came up, you know, there's a well-known case study from Xerox who decided in Australia just to take back all of the printers that didn't work and remanufacture them, and it did thousands of them, and it discovered almost all the problems related to a seven cent spring, and so they replaced the seven cents spring with a 10 cent spring and they could upgrade the warranty on the printer from one year to five years which is a huge selling point.

So for me that's an example of the circularity of information, but if your project arrangements don't allow conversations about innovation and value and cost, you're never going to succeed because a least cost framework is almost always going to be, you know, not the best value, not the worst value but certainly not the best.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Definitely agree with that.

Jon I know you'll have something to say.

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

Oh contracts, I've never got anything to talk about contracts.

But I think whilst contracts are important the specification thing, I don't want to keep harping on about that, but that really is quite important, and it doesn't matter what form of contract you've got if you've got a highly prescriptive specification there it is going to be an issue.

But I think there’s also the form of contract in this procurement process, earlier engagement of the supply chain in the procurement process, I think is important in terms of driving innovation.

And for sure more collaborative forms of contract are likely to deliver better outcomes because they provide a safer space for innovation, but that's not to say that you cannot have innovation in a DNC, traditional DNC, or a PPP environment, it's around how you set that up from a procurement standpoint, from a specification standpoint.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Great point, and I'd just follow that up with should contractors be driving policy change or, that's government policy change, or should government be driving contractors?

Jon Davies, CEO, Australian Constructors Association:

I think contractors are ready to change and it's just being provided the opportunity to do that, but I mean back to this sort of Fair Proposal that we feature, Australian infrastructure rating proposal that we have, the whole idea here is that actually contractors will drive change because what the proposal is that the projects would be rated and those scores would be published based on a series of key reform areas of which environmental sustainability would likely be a key one, and what that will do then is contractors naturally are a competitive bunch, they're going to want to be associated with a high scoring project, so they're going to be knocking on the doors of these delivery agencies saying you need to give us the opportunity to do that, you need to do the things that we've been talking about from a specification standpoint, from an earlier engagement standpoint, to drive those improved outcomes.

So I think you'll see it coming from from both ways.

Jane MacMaster, Chief Engineer, Engineers Australia:

I'll make a quick comment.

Look I think it has to be a bit of both.

I think in a lot of these areas we're breaking new ground, it hasn't been done before, so I think it's going to require innovation from both contractors and industry and government.

And one of things that I keep hearing about in the context of circular economy is the importance of collaboration, Jon's mentioned it, the panel this morning that mentioned, a few of the keynote speakers talked about it, and I attended a circular economy event with Jacqueline Kramer who's a globally renowned expert on circular economy, and it was her single biggest theme was collaboration.

And she was talking about collaboration in two ways, one collaboration like this all getting together, sharing experiences, lessons learned, sharing knowledge, lifting our collective knowledge base about circular economy and how to implement it, but she also spoke about a more structured type of collaboration which she referred to as Network Governance or network thinking which needs to have an element of network governance about it.

There's so many players and actors that are going to need to work together towards our shared objective, but each player, each stakeholder, has their own interests and stakes at heart.

And she spoke about the idea of transition brokers, who are people in the network who facilitate the network or the system to operate towards the shared objective.

So at the risk of sort of elaborating too far on network theory and systems design, I think it is a system of system, there are many players that all need to work together towards a goal that is a shared goal, so it's a goal-oriented system.

So the short answer is I think it's a bit of both.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thanks Jane.

Time for a last question.

This is from Louisa, do you think that COVID driven, amongst other reasons, global supply chain shortages, probably also the cost of waste will accelerate sustainability recycling in Australia or slow it down?

Throw to you Heinz.

Dr Heinz Schandl, Chair, Metrics Working Group of the Australian Circular Economy:

So in Vena’s presentation we already heard about the importance of manufacturing, you know, what happens with the material once the sorting, the collection the beneficiation has happened, what happens next?

Every economic analysis of where we're going in Australia in regard to our future prosperity points in the direction of actually delivering as the energy superpower, the low carbon material superpower, that we could actually be.

So iron and steel that comes with a low environmental impact, net-zero emissions, using recycled components, and then goes to the Asian markets, to the European markets, these are the kind of things that will be sought after, and that comes on top, or as an additional opportunity to the trade tariffs that will be put up over the next couple of decades in regard to the products that don't deliver to those standards and outcomes, or even to the performance of an economy that at the national level cannot produce the results that we globally want to see in terms of emission reduction, and also the use of secondary materials in in production processes.

So there's immense opportunity in building manufacturing in Australia.

We often hear this is actually not possible because cost is too high, especially labour costs, labour costs should be high I think that relates to our living standards, but there are many other factors we can influence, taxation, infrastructure cost, standards, requirements, policies, so there's a lot of things that can be done.

Luke Belfield, Chief Engineer, Office of Projects Victoria:

Thank you Heinz.

And that brings us to a close for this session, so I'd just like to thank Heinz, Jon, Jane, Steve great discussion.

I it's been a pleasure hearing your thoughts, your insights have certainly given us a lot to think about in this space and I'm sure the audience agrees, so I'd like to thank the panel.

Text: Victoria’s Big Build. EcologiQ Greener Infrastructure Conference 2022. Victoria State Government.

Professor Tim Flannery:

Thank you Luke and the rest of the panel for that fascinating session.

It just builds on the previous one and is giving us an ever more complete picture of the scale of the task that we face I think.

Text: Victoria’s Big Build. EcologiQ Greener Infrastructure Conference 2022. Victoria State Government.

Greener Infrastructure Conference 2022. Victoria State Government.

Sign up for updates

Stay updated about ecologiQ with the key announcements and milestones