Caroline Christie Coxon. Landfill. 2021. 77 x 74 x 260cm. Tyres, concrete, metal fixings.

This brutalist assemblage stands as a metaphor for the precariously balanced state of our environment and the brutal impact waste is having on our ecosystems. 


Around two thirds of used tyres in Australia end up in landfill. Collectively we drive 1.5 billion tyres to the end of their useful lives every year. 


The easiest and worst thing to do is to put them in landfill as they leach toxins into soil and water. Tyre dumps are a fire risk, and burning tyres are notoriously hard to deal with.


Building materials account for about half of all materials used and about half the solid waste generated worldwide. They have an environmental impact at every step — extraction of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, transportation, construction and disposal after useful life.


A linear economy works by extracting resources and manufacturing products from them, that are sold and then generally disposed of after a period of use.


The idea of a circular economy is simple: to make better use of resources, close loops of resource flows by fully recovering materials instead of wasting them, and prevent waste and pollution by better design of products and materials and keeping them in use for longer.


Some good news is that today in Australia about 50% of total construction and demolition waste generated is recovered and recycled. This shows performance in terms of resource recovery from the construction and demolition streams. In the best performing jurisdictions, recovery rates greater than 75% are being achieved. 


A circular economy does not happen spontaneously but relies on policies that support experimentation and innovation.