Manufacturers urged to apply for free Innovate to Grow: Ending Plastic Waste program

CSIRO's Ending Plastic Waste Mission aims to change?the way we?make,?use, recycle and dispose of plastics by transforming them into valuable products.? Image credit: CSIRO

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO is opening a new round of its free, ten-week Innovate to Grow program, this time for SMEs, including manufacturers, focusing on plastic waste issues.

According to the agency, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working on advanced solutions to innovate plastic waste are invited to apply to support their commercial idea by building their R&D knowledge.

After completing the program, qualified participants may be able to get facilitation help from CSIRO to link to research experts nationwide, as well as dollar-matched R&D funding.

Dr Deborah Lau, CSIRO’s Ending Plastic Waste Mission Lead, underscored that only by bringing science and business together can the nation change 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.

She also emphasised the importance of collaborating with SMEs to gain access to R&D opportunities in a push to accelerate scientific advancements and cutting-edge technology and address the problem of plastic pollution.

“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,” Dr Lau noted. 

Meanwhile, Deputy Director of CSIRO’s SME Connect, George Feast, encouraged SMEs to participate by making use of free knowledge to assist transform their ideas into potential commercial prospects.

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

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

Feast explained that over the course of ten weeks, CSIRO specialists will walk businesses through the process of refining their idea, determining its research viability, and beginning the process of contracting a university or research institution to conduct a joint R&D project.

The Innovate to Grow: Ending Plastic Waste initiative is open to SMEs working in the following sub-sectors, including plastic processor or converter, plastic waste collection, plastic recycling, packaging, as well as agriculture and food. 

The CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Ending Plastic Waste program, which begins on 7 September, is open to up to 20 SMEs.

 Applications are due by 14 August 2023.