Water recycling rise will see Greater Western Sydney surge ahead

Belinda Wallis •
July 27, 2022

A world-renowned sustainability expert says a rise in water recycling in Greater Western Sydney will reduce water wastage, help address urban heating and create new economic growth opportunities.

Attending the industry summit, Growing Western Sydney’s Circular Economy: A Global Perspective, visiting professor Dr Jacqueline Cramer warned that the benefits will only flow if governments and businesses work together.

Speaking at the event hosted by the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, in partnership with Circular Australia, Aurecon and Sydney Water, the Netherlands-based Dr Cramer said global examples showed Sydney’s fast-growing region could kick-start the nation’s circular economy.

“Transitioning towards a circular economy offers Greater Western Sydney and the rest of Australia smart solutions for preserving natural resources like fresh water that are under enormous pressure,” said Dr Cramer, a member of the Amsterdam Economic Board and former Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.

“Helping raise awareness of this critical issue can propel governments to take steps that safeguard local water supplies and encourage businesses to make environmentally-sound decisions, but it requires unity.

“No company, government or organisation can realise circular initiatives alone. It requires cooperation among partners in networks and regions. Every company and governmental entity can start working towards a sustainable economy today.

It’s time for Australia to follow other countries efforts, such as world-leaders Israel and Cyprus, which both recycle around 90 per cent of their used water.”

Leading not-for-profit think tank, Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, has called on the NSW Government to mandate water recycling commitments.

Executive Director, Adam Leto, said rising temperatures and recent flooding showed the region needed a more sustainable approach to water use.

“Water is a precious resource we can’t afford to waste. Every year billions of litres of water are flushed away and for a region like ours, which is often significantly hotter than other parts of Sydney, urgent action is required,” said Mr Leto.

“Urban heating is a real issue in our region – the number of days exceeding 35 degrees has been climbing every year for the past three decades.

“We’ve been campaigning for a solution to the way water is managed for some time and call on the NSW Government to mandate a 20 per cent water recycling target by 2030 to help conserve this precious resource, support local communities and create new opportunities for growth.”

Circular Australia CEO, Lisa McLean, said transitioning to a circular economy ecosystem through thoughtful land use, planning and wider re-use of local water was critical for unlocking the region’s sustainable economic growth.

“The Circular economy is a $1.9 trillion economic opportunity for Australia and there are significant opportunities for Western Sydney to lead the way in building the circular economy of the future for a more resilient and sustainable Western Sydney,” said Ms McLean.

“Reducing water waste is now a critical priority not just because we are running out of virgin resources, but because we are also losing the natural systems that regenerate our planet.

“People are looking for opportunities to recycle water and reduce water waste – they understand the need for change to promote a more sustainable economy. There is an opportunity to regenerate those systems, improve resilience while building thousands of new jobs, new supply chains and industries in Western Sydney.

“It’s estimated that even a 5 per cent improvement in materials’ efficiency would add $10 billion to NSW’s gross state product and increase real wages by 2.8 per cent.”

Aurecon Managing Principal Sustainability & Climate Change, Justine Jarvinen, said the development of a circular economy in Greater Western Sydney makes economic sense.

“There is rapidly growing recognition and market demand for a more sustainable approach to the use of resources and waste management,” Ms Jarvinen said.

“Designing the infrastructure needed for a circular economy will enable businesses and organisations to transition existing infrastructure and better manage resources.

“We welcome Professor Cramer’s valuable insights into growing the country’s circular economy and highlighting how it can benefit a fast-growing region like Western Sydney.”

In her new book, Building a Circular Future: Ten Takeaways for Global Changemakers, Professor Cramer provides answers on how to govern the transition to a circular economy in different socio-cultural and political contexts after speaking with 20 representatives of circular hotspots worldwide, including Australia.

She says any new circular economy starts with a “coalition of the willing”.

“Our existing consumption and production patterns are not sustainable. Every year we consume more than the earth can supply. In 1970 the population needed the equivalent of one Earth; today we need about 1.75 Earths,” said Dr Cramer.

“To solve this problem, we need to move away from this linear economy and transit to a circular economy.

“It can be easier to implement network governance in some countries compared to others, but each context shows opportunities for setting up coalitions of the willing.”

Professor Cramer’s visit is a key event celebrating the 80 years of Diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Australia.

H.E. Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Australia, said that as one of the world’s leading authorities on circular economy, Professor Cramer “brings the sum of her stellar career as scholar, politician and advocate”.

“As a former Dutch minister and now Professor of Sustainable Innovation at Utrecht University, we are certain that the messages and expertise of Professor Cramer will resonate in Australia for many years,” said Ms Derckx.

Prof Cramer’s visit has been made possible by a partnership with the Netherlands diplomatic missions in Australia, RMIT University and Planet Ark’s Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACE Hub). The visit signifies an ongoing and deepening collaboration between the Netherlands diplomatic missions, the Holland Circular Hotspot, RMIT University, ACE Hub and transition brokers across both countries to accelerate the Netherlands and Australia in their transition towards a Circular Economy.

For media information

Belinda Wallis – Media & Communications Manager

Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue


0466 386 887