Callout for change: can you contribute to Western Sydney’s circular economy?

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Sydney Water and its head contractor, John Holland, are seeking support from businesses within Sydney and beyond to partner on circular economy initiatives for this major project.

At ICN NSW, as well as connecting major projects with smaller suppliers, we are always on the lookout for ways to support the wider infrastructure, construction, and manufacturing industries.

We have recently partnered with John Holland to support the delivery of Sydney Water’s Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre (AWRC) project in Western Sydney. As well as offering work packages for delivery of this project, the project team seeks to partner with businesses that are motivated to contribute to the circular economy. Indigenous partnerships are also highly sought after and encouraged.

To find out more about these opportunities, see below.

What is the circular economy?

If you’re not familiar with the term, circular economy is an economic model aimed at repurposing construction outputs (waste) to be recovered and reused as construction inputs (materials). It focuses on designing products, and construction processes to maximise the value and longevity of materials, while minimising environmental impact.

Through practices like recycling, reuse, recovery and refurbishment, circular economy aims to create a sustainable loop where resources are continually circulated, and waste is minimised.

For John Holland and Sydney Water, having a focus on positive circular economy outcomes means the business is keen to work with providers of all sizes to find ways to efficiently utilise resources.

According to John Holland Sustainability Advisor Michelle Huang, “Our objective as part of the Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre (AWRC) project is to achieve positive environmental, social and economic outcomes. This can be achieved by pursuing circular economy approaches to material sources (including reuse) and effective waste management. My role is to share our resource efficiency strategies, objectives and targets and identify opportunities for resource sharing or recycling by engaging and collaborating with circular businesses, industry groups, community groups, the greater project supply chain and training, education and apprenticeship groups, to find circular economy solutions to reduce waste to landfill, drive down greenhouse gas emissions and support local industry.”

The team at the Upper South Creek AWRC project is working towards positive outcomes by implementing various sustainability initiatives. One of these initiatives includes the state’s first 28-day hydrogen generator trial utilising a direct and pure hydrogen generator with no intermediary battery to power the site facilities. Additionally, the team will be undertaking a trial of sustainable asphalt across paved areas onsite. The sustainable asphalt consists of recycled coffee cup fibres and low carbon biobitumen derived from biogenic materials. John Holland is also working closely with Sydney Water and its supply chain on implementing various other recycled and recovered products across the project, such as bricks, blocks and bedding sand. Michelle and her team are also keen to reach out to other Sydney-based construction industry businesses to communicate the project’s resource efficiency targets, resource recovery requirements and explore potential resource sharing or recycling opportunities.

“Recycling is great for sustainability. We are putting out a call to industry to help us on our journey to divert as much waste, whether it be office or construction and demolition waste, from landfill, by reusing and sharing what resources we can. For example, we have a large quantity of excavated public road material (EPRM) and are looking for projects who can reuse this in their works so it doesn’t end up in landfill,” says Michelle.

There will be ample opportunities to share resources given the extent and variety of materials used on the project. Michelle and her team are open to explore all circular economy possibilities. “Some smaller local businesses might want to take bottles and cans from our site and recycle them under the return and earn scheme,” she explains, “or businesses that offer recycling of office waste products like soft plastics, paper and cardboard, coffee cups or printer cartridges that can be repurposed into reuseable materials such as benches, pavement or wheel stoppers.”

Michelle values and welcomes the ICN NSW’s support. “We found out about ICN NSW and their broad network with suppliers, government and buyers and reached out so we could access this network and better collaborate with the industry to achieve wide-reaching sustainable outcomes,” she says. “We are now using the ICN Gateway platform in a few different ways, and communicating our circular economy objectives and targets is one of them.”

To find out more about circular economy opportunities with John Holland, visit Upper South Creek Advanced Wastewater Recycling Centre on ICN Gateway, or send an email to Thuy Ho via


USC Circular Economy Objectives and Targets

The project’s circular economy objective is to “pursue circular economy approaches to material sources (including reuse) and effective waste management”.

The project’s SMART Circular Economy targets include:

Design targets:

– 45% reduction in material life cycle impacts from a Base Case scenario
– 30% of products / materials (by cost) will have an ISC-approved sustainability label
– 100% reuse of biosolids
– 50% of materials (by cost) can be easily adapted, reused or recycled at end of life

The project’s Construction Targets are:

– 95% diversion of clean/inert excavation spoil from entering landfill
– 70% diversion of office waste from entering landfill
– 80% diversion of other inert resource outputs from entering landfill
– Our minimum and stretch resource efficiency SMART targets and requirements


Work packages available

Sydney Water’s Upper South Creek AWRC will deliver sustainable wastewater treatment and high-quality recycled water to create a cooler, greener Western Parkland City, with a wide range of benefits for the entire community including:

– providing efficient and cost-effective wastewater services
– producing high-quality, recycled water for a range of non-drinking reuses
– recycling organic waste to generate electricity
– helping to protect local waterways and aquatic ecosystems via environmental flows
– producing biosolids for an alternative to chemical fertilisers in agriculture
– enhancing biodiversity by greening Western Sydney with recycled water
– generating renewable energy within the AWRC and through solar, and
– building a centre that can respond to changes in demand as our community grows.

In addition to seeking circular economy partners, John Holland has work packages available across areas including road restoration, landscaping and Cofferdam installation.

As part of the broader picture, this project has a mandate to provide a positive legacy for the construction industry through the engagement of tailored diversity programs and workforce development initiatives.

Sydney Water and John Holland aim to support greater participation of local Western Sydney Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women in non-traditional roles, learner workers, CALD groups, and people with a disability, within the workforce and increase supplier diversity through the engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Islander, Supply Nation recognised businesses.

To achieve this goal, the project is keen to engage suppliers who can, not only provide a premium product at the right price as well as meet all pre-qualifications, but also contribute to addressing skills shortages and increase diversity in alignment with the Aboriginal Procurement Policy, 2021 and NSW Government’s Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program.

More information is available via, or you can join ICN Gateway to be notified about upcoming opportunities with John Holland projects.

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