How garbage could help ease Australia’s supply chain woes

Australia’s biggest companies have not escaped the supply chain issues dogging most of the world’s industries. The latest local solution: look to the junkyard.

The so-called circular economy, which focuses on using existing materials and products for as long as possible, could include using waste resources for high quality projects, such as construction, Professor Veena Sahajwalla told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia panel.

As countries around the world closed borders during the Covid pandemic, Australian firms such as Wesfarmers, one of the nation’s largest private employers, saw costs rising in areas from construction to engineering.

“Covid has definitely taught us that we need to build sovereign capability,” said Sahajwalla, a professor at the University of New South Wales, who was demonstrating award-winning ceramic tiles made from waste glass and textiles.

Building domestic capacity for resources has been at the forefront for many companies, as reliance on overseas goods becomes a less stable option amid global disruptions. Westfarmers, which also produces fertilizers, felt the squeeze in chemical manufacturing and production costs due to ammonia shortages amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Australia’s imports jumped to a record A $ 41.3 billion ($ 30.9 billion), increasing at the fastest pace in 22 years, according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That surge was driven by a jump in industrial supplies, fuels, and lubricants, which reflected rising crude oil prices globally and a rebound in the country’s economy.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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