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CSIRO's Free Program Empowers SMEs to Innovate Plastic Waste Solutions

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is on a mission to end plastic waste and is providing free research and development (R&D) support to businesses working in the plastic and recycling sector.

The program is open for up to 20 SMEs working on advanced solutions in plastic waste and recycling. Image Credit: CSIRO

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) working on advanced solutions to innovate plastic waste are invited to apply for the free, ten-week Innovate to Grow program, offered by CSIRO, to support their commercial idea by building their R&D knowledge.

CSIRO has a goal to reduce 80 per cent of plastic waste entering the Australian environment by 2030. The Ending Plastic Waste Mission is intended to support a sustainable plastics circular economy to reduce detrimental impacts to the environment, while delivering economic benefits.

CSIRO’s Ending Plastic Waste Mission Lead Dr Deborah Lau said it’s only by bringing science and industry together that we can revolutionise plastic waste.

“Each year, 90 billion tonnes of primary materials are extracted and used globally for plastics, with only 9 per cent recycled. This is commercially unsustainable,” Dr Lau said.

“It’s important we work collaboratively with SMEs and facilitate access to R&D opportunities to help accelerate scientific advancements and cutting-edge technology to address the plastic pollution problem.

“SMEs play a key role in driving Australia’s circular economy and new industries. This program will help facilitate innovation to drive future pathways for managing plastic waste.”

George Feast, Deputy Director of CSIRO’s SME Connect, encouraged SMEs to get on board by taking advantage of free expertise, to help translate their ideas into viable commercial opportunities.

“R&D can be an expensive undertaking for businesses and risky for those without the right guidance and support,” Mr Feast said.

“To address these challenges, we’re inviting participants to come with a specific plastic or recycling idea they’d like to explore.

“Over 10 weeks CSIRO experts will guide businesses through how to refine their idea, to understand its research viability, and begin the process of engaging a university or research institution to deliver a collaborative R&D project,”

Upon completion of the program, eligible participants may have the opportunity to access facilitation support, through CSIRO, to connect to research expertise nationally, along with dollar-matched R&D funding.

Innovate to Grow: Ending Plastic Waste is open to SMEs working in the following sub-sectors:

  • Plastic processor or converter
  • Plastic waste collection/sorting
  • Plastic recycling
  • Packaging
  • Agriculture and food
  • Manufacturing
  • Other

CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Ending Plastic Waste program, commencing 7 September, is available for up to 20 SMEs. Applications close 14 August 2023.


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