Introducing Debbie O’Byrne – Beca’s Circular Economy Principal

We’re excited to announce that Debbie O’Byrne has recently joined Beca as Circular Economy Principal in our Sustainability Advisory team. Debbie has been involved in the Circular Economy (CE) space for almost a decade, and it is a real privilege to welcome someone with such passion and experience in this field. Being one of the first CE roles at a Principal level in New Zealand reflects Beca’s commitment to CE and Debbie is extremely qualified and experienced to lead our teams.
“While based in Tauranga, I’m looking forward to growing the capability within the Beca team in both New Zealand and Australia, and to support our clients to understand and leverage the shift in thinking a CE transition creates,” says Debbie.

“We have a real opportunity to develop strategies and look for opportunities that will enable us to achieve a more holistic approach to sustainability. In turn this will positively impact the environment as well as the lives of future generations.”

Debbie is the ideal person to drive our CE initiatives and growth in capability at Beca. She has worked with a range of organisations, including universities, iwi, large corporate and government bodies to integrate CE principles into the redesign of their business strategy. For the last two years, she was the Circular Economy Lead at Lake Macquarie Council, where she led several projects related to policy, material & data flows, low carbon economic development and incorporating an indigenous perspective into the council’s Circular Economy Framework.

For those unfamiliar with a Circular Economy, Debbie explains: “A CE provides a framework that is based on principles that design out waste and pollution, keep materials in use at their highest possible value and regenerate natural systems.”

“In New Zealand, we are already familiar with the importance of decarbonisation. But with a CE, we need to look beyond carbon to other system level issues like biodiversity loss and other planetary boundaries. CE means taking it further than sustainability and requires a change in our consumption and mobility behaviour, which obviously takes time.”

“While CE is still relatively new to New Zealand, it is a concept that is already well advanced in some countries, especially the EU and China, and we can learn from that experience to develop initiatives appropriate to this economy. We also have an incredible resource of Indigenous knowledge to draw upon; Māori have been thinking in circular systems far longer than we have and there is much we can learn and apply from their world view.”

Debbie’s expertise in this field is widely respected on both sides of the Tasman. She has delivered a CE Masterclass for Green Building Council Australia, been appointed to the College of Assessors as a CE expert for MBIE and is an Affiliate Academic to the University of Newcastle. She has also been appointed to the Australian Circular Economy Hub (ACEHUB) and Hunter Joint Organization Circular Procurement Working Groups and participates in multiple Technical Advisory Groups on workforce development and system enablers. In New Zealand, Debbie has worked on a range of projects with Sustainable Business Network (SBN) and was a member of their Regional Advisory Board as CE domain expert She is frequently invited to be a keynote speaker and panel member at numerous conferences and events.

See also March 2022