Circular Economy FNQ by Irene Pollak

    Irene Pollak (pictured above) speaks and writes passionately on the Circular Economy space in Far North Queensland. She is keen to get everyone onboard and has big plans in steering this non-profit organisation as the current Chair of Circular Economy FNQ (formerly known as the Committee for Waste Reduction).

    ‘When we knew who made what we consumed and knew their story and had a trusted source to tell us the supply chain we made clear ethical choices in our purchases, but it hasn’t been transparent for a while which is why we have lulled ourselves in buying more but at a poorer quality. This is the result of a 60 year old economic goal of GDP growth that was introduced by JFK not long before his assassination actually, we kind of didn’t have a plan for when we either reached enough or were close to exhausting all the natural resources it takes to live our modern lifestyle.
    Now we do. Because health and climate conditions and polar ice caps are changing at a rate where it might just outpace us in reversing mistakes. We have enough but we just have to learn how to use it properly.
    Not only did we start buying a lot more than we needed and poorer quality products that made it cheaper to just replace whatever we broke than to pay for the cost to repair it. If everyone bought better and less we would have a new old style economy of thriving makers and upcyclers because good quality comes from quality makers, better resources and a little automation, that’s how it is economical.
    Another problem with the new way we produce things is we blend our resources in such a way there is nothing to recycle because it is costly to separate the elements on the product. For example, plastic film on a cardboard box, expensive to recycle. This is the main issue that contributes to the volume of waste that has to go to landfill. Something we haven’t noticed until now, mainly because our waste is so poor quality no one wants to buy it and we are terrible sorters.
    The next critical problem is we only have about fifty years left of the key resources we need, to live our lifestyle. We have a stick to motivate us. Two really and the second one is the more pressing one.
    Another stick 1.5 degrees cap in temperature increase on the planet, currently our trajectory is heading for 2.7 degrees which means there will be no GBR, that’s the gist of it, 1.5 degree increase = burnt but repairable coral, anything above that it’s gone. Forever.
    We will also have a mass extinction, all of that is correct. Heat will kill a lot of wildlife on land and in the ocean. We won’t be long after it.
    But we can fix it, but we need to giddy up.
    We have time, we have nine years to be exact to make a serious dent in how we do things and make it better. Education, Innovation and Good People Running Smart Systems and being good humans with the objective to do no harm. That’s the process, we are currently mapping and developing our own education on how to be better sorters and changemakers.”

    Irene explains that they are also connecting innovators with venture capital funding and/or grants, raising awareness through networking science with entrepreneurs to help make business happen smarter, uncovering system change coaches and bringing them to Cairns to support their members to find change and waste ambassadors for their business so that they can reduce the cost in getting rid of the waste from their business while inspiring waste entrepreneurs to achieve greater outcomes. Irene and her team at Circular Economy FNQ have a 5 year plan which she briefly describes below.

    “I hate writing business plans without a Case Study, it’s all wishy washy without one. From this strategy we will get clearer on key pivot solutions to make big changes fast so we can collaborate with Cairns Regional Council, to help them achieve a bigger Green Ripple Effect from their Net Zero by 2030. It will get clearer with more research and connections.
    Year 1: Curate the data; what has been measured and get case studies to fill in the gaps, connect entrepreneurs to waste as we run our pilot of the Circular Economy Business Development Program. Learn and improve our first year awareness campaigns.
    Take our first waste entrepreneurs to a Circular Economy Venture Capital event in Sydney. Run our first Changeology event and build and promote a roadmap from that. Place this training online and in our membership. Build case studies around both our Circular Citizen and our Pilot business program Year 2: Review the first year’s systems set up and identify opportunities and breaks. Build our online education courses to help people be change ambassadors in their workplaces and get recognised for it. Work on bringing carbon measurement education courses from War On Waste into Cairns schools. There are primary and secondary education on how to measure the carbon in supply chains and by the year 7’s of next year graduate, we could have 6 classes come through with that kind of math education in every school in Cairns. Build out the board with a new Vice Chair to be prepared to take over from me as Chair in two years time.
    Years 3-5: Build on what is working, fill gaps, empower people outside our region to do the same because we have a tested roadmap that will work if you have the same waste and resources as us.

    By 2024, Irene is aiming to hold a Social entrepreneur and a Circular Economy Innovation Conference In Cairns.
    The Board’s main activities are; fundraising to get the coaches we need and pay for videographers for online lessons, problem solving online education and ‘better sorting’ tutorials.
    Supporting and connecting innovators and entrepreneurs to the right people to help develop the Circular Economy and reduce waste to landfill. They are building and developing case studies so that they can be used to change policies to help the changes identified as solutions that can be scaled nationally without hesitation.

    Everyone is welcome to become a circular citizen. There is a joining fee of $25 per person. Join before March 1 then one can decide to either join the board or volunteer in one of their disruptive and measurable projects. For further information, refer to https://circulareconomyfnq.org.au/

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