A process to break plastic down to its core elements, enabling it to be recycled time and again, has won a 2022 Banksia National Sustainability Award.
Developed by start-up company Samsara Eco in conjunction with the Australian National University, the technology depolymerizes plastic waste and allows for the reuse of the monomers to produce food-grade plastics with the same characteristics as virgin plastic.
The company says the technology is particularly useful in recycling heterogeneous mixes of hard-to-recycle plastics, including coloured, multilayered, and mixed plastics.
Paul Riley, Samsara’s founder and CEO, said current approaches to recycling were inefficient and resulted in only nine percent of plastic waste is actually recycled.
“We can take plastic that already exists and infinitely recycle it,” he said.
“Our long-term vision is to extend our technology capabilities to infinitely recycle other oil-derived plastic products like clothes made from polyester and nylon so we never use fossil fuels to create new plastic again.”
Woolworths has helped finance the Samsara/ANU research and has committed to turning the first 5,000 tonnes of recycled Samsara plastic into packaging for its own-brand products.