Green plastic research centre to open

University of Queensland
Friday, 19 August, 2022

Green plastic research centre to open

A training centre will launch within The University of Queensland (UQ) to concentrate on the development of sustainable plastics.

The $13 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Bioplastics and Biocomposites will be based at UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering. It aims to reduce large-scale plastic pollution.

Associate Professor Steven Pratt, the Centre director, said that the training centre and its scientists will be working towards the development of bio-derived and biodegradable plastics that have a minimal environmental impact.

“Every year it’s estimated more than 10 million tonnes of plastic leaks into oceans as part of the almost 400 million tonnes of plastic that’s destined for landfill,” Pratt said.

“Urgent change is needed, and biodegradable bioplastics, along with their natural fibre composites, will be pivotal.

“It’s an exciting prospect to work toward manufacturing a commercially available plastic with exceptional properties but without the legacy of accumulation in the environment.”

According to Pratt, the market for high-quality bioplastics is growing at a rapid pace, both on the local and international levels.

“But we need to consider their full life cycle, from the sustainable resources to make them right up to their end of life,” Pratt said.

The training centre is a partnership between UQ and The Queensland University of Technology. They will be working alongside the Queensland Government, Kimberly-Clark Australia, Plantic Technologies, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Minderoo Foundation and the City of Gold Coast.

Kimberly-Clark Australia Managing Director Belinda Driscoll said the company had set itself a goal of reducing its use of fossil-fuel plastics by 2030.

“This partnership with the University of Queensland takes an important step toward creating more sustainable products and reducing our environmental footprint,” Driscoll said.

Plantic Technologies Chief Technology Officer Nick McCaffrey said the company was looking forward to expanding the science and engineering behind its products.

“The research outcomes could further improve bio-based materials and extend the shelf life of packaged foods,” McCaffrey said.

Image caption: Industry partners receiving a tour of the new laboratory facilities in the Andrew N. Liveris building. Image credit: Anjanette Webb — Capture Studio.

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