$2.9m grant to find plastic recycling solution
A JOINT project to tackle plastic pollution by a research collective, which includes Southern Cross University, has received a $2.49 million dollar grant from the Australian Government.
Grant recipient the Plastic Collective consists of Southern Cross University research partners, engineering company Emalte and global-climate solutions provider South Pole, who will use the funds to "develop mobile recycling stations which will be able to recycle 124.8 tonnes of plastic each, per year".
According to Southern Cross University deputy vice chancellor of Research Professor Mary Spongberg the current prototype Shruder Recycling Station Mk 2 was the basis for the new and improved Shruder Recycling Stations designed to provide an on-site solution to recycling plastic waste in remote and regional communities; thereby improving the local environment and economy.
Prof Spongberg said countries such as Indonesia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand have already expressed interest in buying the new stations once they become available.
She said the Australian Government Collaborative Research Centre grant will help the group to develop "a hardware and software stack" for the new SRS.
The SRS will be able to process hard and soft single-use plastics, turning them into valuable products.
This will either be in the form of shredded plastic flakes, filament or moulded plastic products which can all be on-sold.
"This project aims to not only mitigate plastic waste as a problem for indigenous communities; it will connect remote communities to an international ethically recycled plastics marketplace and facilitate a real plastic circular economy," Prof Spongberg said.
"This innovative approach to dealing with waste plastic is exactly the sort of research SCU excels in, bringing expertise created in the Northern Rivers to the world, but most importantly to the people who need it most."
She said SCU's expert research teams will be led by Professor Stephen Smith and Dr Lachlan Yee.
Professor Smith said his experience in environmental monitoring and marine pollution combined with Dr Yee's expertise in polymer manufacturing (plastic) was expected to deliver a financially and environmentally sustainable solution.
Dr Yee said his team will form a group that can provide the scientific knowledge necessary to take plastic waste and produce valuable products after processing.