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Chemistry Australia and CSIRO collaborate on advanced plastics recycling report

25 August 2021

Chemistry Australia and members LyondellBasell Australia and Qenos have collaborated with CSIRO on a new report into advanced recycling, a set of technologies that can increase the recovery and recycling of Australia’s valuable plastic resources.

Released today, CSIRO’s Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste report looks at a range of advanced recycling technology pathways, which are increasingly being used overseas to convert plastic waste into high-value recycled plastics and other products.

Chemistry Australia Director of Strategy, Energy and Research Peter Bury said the Australian chemistry sector welcomes the release of the CSIRO report, which takes an in-depth, technology-neutral approach to explaining advanced recycling and the opportunities created by the technologies to strengthen a plastics circular economy in Australia.

“CSIRO has produced a well-researched and comprehensive report that provides a credible, laypersons reference and guide to advanced recycling for plastics,” said Mr Bury.

“It builds awareness of the different technologies available, which are still relatively new to Australia. The report will serve as a valuable resource for industry, policy makers and communities looking for practical opportunities to strengthen Australia’s recycling capability.”

“Advanced recycling is a good example of advanced manufacturing at work. These technologies can help achieve the vision of an Australian Plastics Circular Economy.”

“It presents a further opportunity for Australia to reduce plastic waste going to landfill and significantly improve its plastics recycling to support national waste policy objectives and recycling targets.

“The report found that advanced recycling is complementary to our foundation mechanical recycling technologies. It provides the capability to manage used plastics that can’t be processed through existing channels.

“These can now be saved from landfill and up-cycled into new plastic resins for manufacturing.”

Mr Bury said the report also identified the potential for advanced recycling to help industry meet demand for recycled food-grade plastics and other recycled products both here and overseas, creating new domestic and export opportunities for Australia where both small and larger scale technologies can be used.

“We already have the critical industrial capability and polymer manufacturing infrastructure to integrate advanced recycling feedstocks into existing production.  Importantly, we have the talent and highly skilled workforce in place to develop and integrate this new technology,” said Mr Bury.

“Advanced recycling technologies align well with Federal government policy objectives in the National Plastics Plan, Modern Manufacturing Initiative and the Technology Investment Roadmap, which are designed to stimulate business investment and ensure industries have access to new technologies that create jobs, grow the economy and reduce environmental impacts.”

CSIRO’s Sarah King, lead author says the report highlights the importance of how scientific research can support government and industry initiatives for managing Australia’s waste.

“Our report describes advanced recycling technologies and how they can be implemented in Australia to recycle a range of plastic wastes which currently can’t be recycled” said Ms King.

“It evaluates advanced recycling pathways to convert plastic waste into new resources to build Australia’s circular economy and to divert waste from landfill.”

Chemistry Australia has also partnered with CSIRO to develop its Ending Plastic Waste Mission, which aims to use science and technology to develop solutions to prevent waste entering the environment, and transform the way Australia uses, re-uses and recycles plastics at their end of life.

Chemistry Australia congratulates CSIRO on its new report and looks forward to continuing work with CSIRO and other Ending Plastic Waste Mission partners to advance a plastics circular economy in Australia.

Download Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste.

Media contacts:

Shayna Welsh – or 0448 660 443

Chemistry Australia is the pre-eminent national body representing the Australian chemistry industry, one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country. The industry supports more than 212,000 full time jobs and contributes more than $38 billion to Australia’s GDP. Members of Chemistry Australia are positioned across the entire value chain including manufacturers, importers and distributors, logistics and supply chain partners, raw material suppliers, fabricators, compounders, recyclers, research, academia and service providers to the industry. These businesses range from small family-owned companies to leading national and multinational enterprises.

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