The Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has published a new paper titled Transitioning the water industry with the circular economy, outlining water utilities’ role in the circular economy.

Mr Adam Lovell, Executive Director of WSAA, said the water industry is well suited to meet the challenge.

“It’s hard to find a more circular business than water. All water on Earth is used and reused in an endless cycle,” Mr Lovell said.

“Urban water utilities manage an essential part of the water cycle that creates healthy, liveable communities and simultaneously manage a significant proportion of the waste created by those urban communities. 

“It’s time to move beyond ‘sustaining’ to ‘restoring’ and ‘regenerative’ actions that will ensure the planet’s health, resilience and ability to adapt.”

The concept of the circular economy has been gaining traction locally and globally over the past decade and has many benefits for customers, the broader community, the environment and utilities.

Pat McCafferty, WSAA Chair and Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, said, “I’m excited about the opportunities for the water sector presented by the transition with the circular economy.

“The water industry is already actively implementing opportunities, including the recycling of biosolids, recycling wastewater for reuse and turning waste into energy, and using on-site renewable energy, to address rising energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet renewable energy targets.”

The paper was prepared for WSAA and its members by the Institute of Sustainable Futures (ISF, University of Technology Sydney).

Dr Melita Jazbec, Senior Research Consultant, Institute for Sustainable Futures, said, “We are delighted to develop this timely paper for WSAA. 

“Water as a resource, nutrient carrier and source of energy makes the water sector central to the driving of a circular economy.

“We look forward to working with utilities to identify and embed the step changes required to deliver well-being for both people and the planet.”

The paper outlines the key building blocks required for a utility to transition to a circular economy as well as the value proposition and the many benefits to customers and the broader community, the environment and to utilities themselves.

The paper also collates existing knowledge on the contribution of the urban water industry in a circular economy and recommends the next steps to help utilities begin or further advance their approach. 

It is supported by 15 international and Australian case studies showcasing the future possibilities for the urban water industry.

You can view the paper here.

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