Cracking the circular economy barriers of Queensland Local Governments. An examination of barriers experienced by Queensland Local Governments at the start of operational transitions toward a circular economy

Author: Victoria Hammer

  • Thesis download: available for open access on 26 Jul 2023.

Hammer, Victoria, 2021 Cracking the circular economy barriers of Queensland Local Governments. An examination of barriers experienced by Queensland Local Governments at the start of operational transitions toward a circular economy, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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Abstract

The Queensland Waste Management and Resource Recovery (WMRR) Strategy, published by the Department of Environment and Science (Qld) in 2019, aims to develop a circular economy (CE) and transition to zero-waste to landfill by 2050. In doing so, the Strategy sets out three strategic priorities and defines specific actions of four key stakeholders, including Local Government (LG).

The research framework used five multi-method qualitative research instruments, supported by limited data, to examine barriers to a CE specific to LGs in Queensland. A literature review, survey, interview, workshop, and document interrogation were employed to collect data for the twelve-month period following the implementation of the WMRR Strategy. Analysis of the data investigated key themes of each approach individually and collectively to characterise barriers to a CE for Queensland LGs. The Boston Consulting Group DICE Calculator was applied to predict the success of Queensland LGs in achieving the WMRR Strategy CE priorities.

A review of literature identified a gap that CE barriers specific for LG was limited and that LG were often referred to as creating a barrier for other stakeholders. Those barriers were evaluated for their relevance in the Queensland context. Results for each of the research instruments are presented graphically, tabulated or as observations.

The Ellen Macarthur Foundation describes a CE involving many levels of interconnectedness. This research indicated that barriers to a CE are also often interrelated. Seven types of CE barriers are discussed for Queensland LGs, with sub-categories and implications explored for each.

Insufficient knowledge, understanding and the practical application of CE concepts; limited visible leadership and commitment in strategic organisational planning for a CE transition by LG; and risks of unintended barriers created by LG are the three widest reaching types of CE barriers for Queensland LGs. Applying this knowledge to the Boston Consulting Group DICE Calculator, Queensland LGs are not predicted to achieve the WMRR Strategy CE priorities. Barriers in forming local partnerships, using procurement as a CE enabler, economic influences and political influence were also explored.

This research provides a baseline narrative for Queensland LGs as they begin the transition to a CE. It affords LGs the opportunity to address the identified barriers and empower them to realise the WMRR Strategy priorities. Further research could improve upon the barriers identified by qualitatively measuring the degree of impact of each barrier. Opportunities were brought forward for LG and State Government to improve on risks and shape the future of Queensland’s CE.

Keywords: Circular economy, local government, barriers

Subject: Environmental Health thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Kirstin Ross