As the world struggles with diminishing resources and environmental challenges, governments and companies are starting to embrace the concept of the circular economy – using the by-products from one process as inputs into another.

And the movement is rapidly gaining traction, as recent initiatives in Taiwan and Queensland demonstrate.

In October, Taiwan played host to the Asia Pacific Circular Economy Roundtable, which brought together representatives from more than 500 enterprises to discuss circular-economy trends and strategies.

TIQ was an exhibitor at the event, which attracted participants from across Asia and from the UK and Europe.

As part of the roundtable, participants visited Taiwanese companies that have already successfully embraced the circular economy. These included:

  • Solar Applied Materials Technology Corporation, which refines precious metals from discarded integrated circuits into industrial-grade high-purity (99.999%) gold
  • Taisugar Co. DongHaiFeng Livestock Farm, which mixes solid and liquid pig waste with agricultural refuse from nearby farms to generate biogas
  • China Steel Corporation, which transports the high-temperature steam generated by its steelworks to provide heat energy for other plants.

In Queensland, the state government is also getting behind the circular economy with its Biofutures and Circular Economy Lab initiatives, which TIQ promoted at the roundtable event.

These initiatives will help Queensland accelerate its circular-economy initiatives, and secure its share of the global bioproducts and services market (which involves reusing and reprocessing materials to create new products).

TIQ had previously arranged for prominent Queensland representatives in both fields to visit research institutions, associations and companies in Taiwan.

TIQ Taiwan Business Development Manager Chris Lin, who attended the roundtable, said it was great to see more governments and companies getting on board with the circular economy concept.

‘This is an important shift in thinking, with both sustainability and economic benefits,’ Mr Lin said.

‘That’s why the Queensland Government created the Circular Economy Lab back in February – to get Queenslanders working on re-using by-products as much as possible instead of throwing them away.

‘And I’m sure Queensland’s start-ups and SMEs will have also brought plenty of great circular-economy concepts to be considered by the panel of the SparkPlug program.’

The current round of SparkPlug is assessing pitches on circular-economy projects from Queensland SMEs.

Queenslander Jaine Morris (pictured) was a keynote speaker at the Taiwan roundtable. Ms Morris is COO of Brisbane-based circular-economy specialists Coreo, who helped to create the Circular Economy Lab.

Ms Morris told participants about her projects with Australian companies, successfully designing lasting business models using circular-economy principles.

The roundtable was held on 16–18 October at the Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, Kaohsiung.

Supporting the Queensland Government’s framework for sustainable economic growth is a priority in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.