Hopes to make Australia rich through waste | Liverpool City Champion
Scientists want to help Australia tap into a $90 billion global “circular economy” by finding new ways to recycle and reuse plastics.
CSIRO aims to reduce plastic waste in Australia by 80% by 2030 and create an industry of alternatives to plastic while ending the import of plastics.
The new mission involves a cash contribution of $50 million and will see CSIRO scientists working with other academic institutions and the government.
Scientists also hope to harness nature to help fight litter by researching how mealworms eat plastic and synthetic materials derived from algae.
“Our mission will be the national catalyst for systematic change to address plastic pollution,” said mission leader Dr. Deborah Lau.
“This will drive an important coordinated response across the innovation sector and bring science and technology to the forefront to help deliver a myriad of solutions to end plastic waste.”
Australians use one million tonnes of single-use plastic every year, of which only 12% is recycled.
Three-quarters of plastic waste along Australia’s coastline is single-use plastic.
Some of the things the researchers have already helped develop include a real-time storm drain monitoring system that allows workers to detect when too much waste has accumulated in a drain.
CSIRO will also partner with researchers at Murdoch University in a new innovation hub, which already plans to develop compostable bottles, caps and packaging.
“Some bioplastics are already on the market, but most need UV light to break down,” said university researcher Professor Daniel Murphy.
“Our compostable bioplastics break down in compost, landfills or water, leaving no traces.”
Global demand for plastics is expected to double by 2040, with the plastic waste industry already valued at around $117 billion.
Australian Associated Press