A new training center run by the University of Queensland is set to become a hub for cutting-edge ‘green’ plastic research.
The $13 million Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Processing Training Center for Bioplastics and Biocompositesbased at UQ School of Chemical Engineeringaims to make large-scale plastic pollution a problem of the past.
center director, Associate Professor Steven Pratt said scientists will work to develop bio-derived and biodegradable plastics that have minimal environmental impact.
“Every year, it is estimated that more than 10 million tonnes of plastic leak into the oceans out of the nearly 400 million tonnes of plastic destined for landfill,” Dr Pratt said.
“Urgent change is needed, and biodegradable bioplastics and their natural fiber composites will be essential.
“It’s exciting prospect of working towards making a commercially available plastic with exceptional properties but without the legacy of environmental accumulation.
Dr Pratt said there is a rapidly growing local and international market for better bioplastics.
“But we have to consider their full life cycle, from sustainable resources to their end of life,” he said.
The training center is a partnership between the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology, alongside the Queensland Government, Kimberly-Clark Australia, Plantic Technologies, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Minderoo Foundation and the City of Gold Coast.
Kimberly-Clark Australia chief executive Belinda Driscoll said the company has set an ambitious target to halve its use of fossil fuel-based plastic over the next eight years.
“This partnership with the University of Queensland is an important step towards creating more sustainable products and reducing our environmental footprint,” said Ms. Driscoll.
Plantic Technologies Chief Technology Officer Nick McCaffrey said the company is eager to further develop the science and engineering behind its unique products.
“Research results could further improve bio-based materials and extend the shelf life of packaged foods,” McCaffrey said.
The training center will also focus on training to develop industry-ready researchers in chemical and materials engineering, polymer chemistry, environmental sciences, social sciences, politics and business.
Media: ARC Training Center Manager for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, Dr Lisa Pope, [email protected], +61 (07) 3346 6466.