• Secos, the parent company of MyEcoBag, will be joining the CRC in the fight on plastic waste.
    Secos, the parent company of MyEcoBag, will be joining the CRC in the fight on plastic waste.
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Secos Group, the parent company of Australian compostable packaging brand, MyEcoBag, has been successful in a joint industry-university bid to secure $40m in funds over a ten-year period, from the federal government to establish the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) aimed at solving plastic waste.

The total resources available to the Solving Plastic Waste CRC is $140.6 million, including the CRC program grant and contributions from partners such as Secos.

From this project, Secos aims to drive down plastic waste by fast-tracking its research and development (R&D) investment, with the company saying every $1 it spends now will yield approximately $3 to $4 in actual R&D investment.

Of the four program areas in the CRC project, Secos will focus on two key components:

  • Program One: Materials and Design. Secos aims to reduce products’ environmental impact, which focuses on new materials to substitute conventional plastic; and
  • Program Three: Implementing a circular economy for plastics in Australia. Here, Secos will focus more on education and life cycle analysis to support behavioural change around plastic use and therefore waste.

Secos CEO and executive director, Richard Tegoni, said the team is excited for the opportunity to work on a project that will have such a positive impact on people and planet.

“We are very proud to be part of the distinguished team that was successful in its bid to receive this government funding under the Cooperative Research Australia’s program to establish the Solving Plastic Waste CRC. The Secos R&D team will have the opportunity to work alongside experts within Australia’s best universities and industry stakeholders,” he said.

Secos CEO and executive director, Richard Tegoni (left), said the team is excited for the opportunity to work on a project that will have such a positive impact on people and planet.
Secos CEO and executive director, Richard Tegoni (left), said the team is excited for the opportunity to work on a project that will have such a positive impact on people and planet.

“There are two other drivers for the change in our thinking required around plastic waste. One being that microplastics are creating more concern in terms of the impact that plastic has on the environment and wildlife. Estimates as to the extent of this problem vary, but there is no doubt that microplastics are creating issues within the food chain. We now know that each of us has a level of plastics that are ingested.

“The second is the prevalence of plastic chemicals; the UN has identified over 3000 plastic chemicals used in plastic production which have one or more hazardous properties of concern. These include chemicals that accumulate in the body, can mimic, block or alter the actions of hormones, reduce fertility, impact neurological development, damage the nervous system, and/or cause cancer. On that basis plastic and its associated waste will continue to impact our world in ways that are yet to be fully realised, so the time to act is now.”

Other plans for Secos' involvement include the utilisation of new developments from other CRC industry participants, such as the Minderoo Foundation, an Australian independent philanthropic organisation. The foundation is actively working on creating a practical and sustainable process for producing PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) in Australia. Secos projects that the PHA production R&D would be a five-to-ten-year endeavour.

Another Solving Plastic Waste project in the pipeline is the R&D aimed at driving compostable food packaging formulation that requires adequate barrier properties to maintain the integrity of the food but at the same time, breakdown once the ‘Best Before Date’ is exceeded. If successful, Secos expects these new products to be available for broader use within the packaging industry within the next three years. This is aimed at adding to MyEcoBag’s product expansion, from compostable bin liners to fully compostable food packaging.

The CRC will also assist in solving Australia’s plastic waste problem by enhancing end-user driven collaboration which addresses the current challenges across the entire plastics value chain. This CRC will bring together business, industry and government to tackle some of Australia’s most difficult challenges over the next ten years, to reach net zero by 2050.

Secos says that over the past six years it has sold 500 million MyEcoBag compostable bags globally, which could be equated to approximately 3.3 million kilograms of conventional plastic replaced with a better-for-the-environment alternative.

This momentum is expected to only increase with initiatives such as the Solving Plastic Waste CRC now set to support Secos’ impressive trajectory.

 

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