Media Release: 30 June 2021

It is our Waste, it is our responsibility!

Griffith University along with 9 universities across Australia is bringing world-class researchers together with key industries including Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, National Retail Association, World Packaging Organization, Australian Industrial Ecology Network, Australian Institute of Packaging, Queensland Farmers’​ Federation, Australian Organics Recycling Association Limited, Keep Australia Beautiful, NRM-Regions QLD to tackle our current plastic waste issues and position Australia as a Global Leader.

Our relationship with plastic needs rethinking. Plastics are versatile materials, but the way we use them is not sustainable. Australians consume around 130 kg of plastic per person per annum, most of which is sent to landfill. Recycling rates are low (12%), and leakage (9%) into the environment is difficult to manage and a growing threat to human, animal and environmental health. While plastic has many benefits, we now know there are negative consequences if it becomes waste or pollution. To achieve a circular economy, we need to reduce the amount of material that needs to be circulated. Globally, replacing just 20% of single-use plastic packaging with reusable alternatives is conservatively estimated to be an opportunity worth at least USD $10 billion.

The development of a circular economy for plastic is fundamental to solving Australia’s plastic waste challenge. The Plastic Waste CRC will identify new technologies, products, services and industries that can emerge from taking on a circular economy approach. By rethinking the way we design, use and reuse plastic, the Plastic Waste CRC will fast-track the development of a viable and valuable circular economy for plastic that will create 1000s of jobs, drive business, economic and export growth, and result in a cleaner, safer environment.

The Opportunity

The development of an Australian circular economy for plastic (including medical, packaging, agricultural, textile, cosmetic, mixed plastics and e-waste) represents an enormous opportunity for stakeholders across the plastic lifecycle, delivering new revenue streams across design, consumption, reuse, recovery, avoidance, collection, sorting, recycling and manufacturing. The Plastic Waste CRC will help drive and enable:

  • Novel and commercial pollution free material and packaging options
  • New commercial remanufacturing and reuse enterprises
  • Commercial-scale feedstock recycling connecting the waste and manufacturing sectors
  • Novel technologies for SME commercialisation and delivery
  • Artificially intelligent plastic waste sorting technologies
  • Novel biotechnology for cleaning up plastic pollution
  • Commercial plastic waste to energy solutions
  • Collaborative engagement with community, business and consumer advocacy groups

Outcomes and Impact

The Plastic Waste CRC will deliver and enable:

  • New high-tech driven manufacturing, recycling and reuse industries
  • Competitive and viable circular economies for plastic
  • Position Australia as a leading country for plastic waste recycling research and practice
  • Thousands of new jobs, business and economic growth
  • Expanded industry capabilities and skill-sets
  • Significant growth in plastic recycling
  • Dramatic reductions in plastic sent to landfill
  • Major reductions in plastic leakage and environmental pollution
  • Elimination of single use plastics



Dr Maryam Esfandbod
Research, Innovation and Business Manager
T: +61 7 373 57876
E: [email protected]