Samsara, a new Australian enviro-tech start-up supported by The Australian National University (ANU), looks to “infinitely” recycle plastic to overcome the global plastic pollution crisis.
The start-up is supported by Woolworths Group and venture fund Main Sequence. It employs new technology to disintegrate plastic into its core elements and make new plastic. The technology involves using “plastic-eating” enzymes and has been created by scientists at ANU. Someday, this technology could put an end to plastic pollution.
Samsara’s innovative recycling process is not just eco-friendly and carbon-neutral but also avoids the need to depend on fossil fuels to make plastics. Australians produce over 2.5 million tons of plastic waster annually. However, only 9% of this waste is recycled and 84% ends up in landfill.
At first, Samsara will focus on PET plastic and polyester —materials that are widely used to make plastic bottles and in fast fashion — which account for one-fifth of plastic made each year.
Eventually, the start-up intends to achieve a world first and develop its process so that it can someday recycle all kinds of plastic over and over again.
ANU has some of the best researchers on the planet. Their work has contributed to our understanding of the world and the development of new knowledge that accelerates the prosperity and sustainability of humankind. Our involvement in Samsara is a perfect example of this. Samsara has the potential to address a massive world challenge, and if we don’t address it soon it will be too late.
Brian Schmidt, Professor and Vice-Chancellor, The Australian National University
“We’re proud to be a driving force behind Samsara, bringing to life technology that can have real impact in the world, by helping to solve the plastic pollution crisis,” added Schmidt.
According to Paul Riley, CEO and co-founder of Samsara, the start-up’s infinite recycling represents “a major breakthrough.”
If we’re determined to solve the plastic crisis we need to start with where the problem lies, which is how it’s made and recycled. We’re able to make plastic infinitely recyclable. This means we will never have to create plastic from virgin materials like fossil fuels again, and we can divert plastic from our oceans and landfill. This gives consumer brands the tools to continue using plastic with zero tradeoff.
Paul Riley, CEO and Co-Founder, Samsara
“Samsara’s recycled plastic looks and performs like the original, minus the environmental price tag. For consumers, it will remove the time and energy that goes into thinking about what products to purchase because Samsara plastic is not only recycled, it is infinitely recyclable,” Riley continued.
Woolworths Group has already determined to turn the first 5,000 tonnes of Samsara’s recycled plastic into packaging for its own-brand products. It is expected that the new packaging will hit the shelves in the next two years.
By helping develop new sustainable technologies today, we can plant the seeds for a better tomorrow. We’ve co-founded Samsara to play a part in addressing one of the most challenging sustainability problems of our time and we’re excited to work together on its first retail product, which will be tested in our supply chain.
Brad Banducci, CEO, Woolworths Group
Banducci continued, “As Australia’s largest retailer, we want to use our scale for good to drive innovation that can not only reduce our own footprint, but help our suppliers and competitors make positive change across the board.”
“We’re working hard to reduce plastic, but we know there are some products where there simply aren’t effective alternatives. Samsara is paving the way for a future where these products could become part of an infinite loop for recycling,” added Banducci.
According to Phil Morle, the Main Sequence Partner who is the architect and co-founder of Samsara, “We’re addicted to plastic. We know it’s bad for us but we continue to make and consume more of it. If we continue on the current trajectory, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. No one wants to live in that world.”
“It’s never been more urgent to break free from our obsession with creating virgin, fossil fuel based plastics and dumping them in landfill and the oceans. Samsara is offering a solution that is not only greener but faster and more cost effective to recycle plastic. We see massive potential for the company and its ability to solve one of our world’s epic challenges,” concluded Morle.