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Mission CSIRO: to end plastic waste

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has set the ambitious mission to see the end of plastic waste by reinventing the way plastic is made, processed and recycled.

The statement was included in an outline of program of 12 missions aimed at solving some of the country’s challenges so it can emerge with resilience from COVID-19. Badged Team Australia, the plan will comprise large scale, major scientific, and collaborative research initiatives.

CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall addressed the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday, stating that the nation has the opportunity to rally research, industry, and community around a new mission enabled by science, one he said that is a “mission of recovery and resilience”.

CSIRO will commit at least AU$100 million annually to the co-creation of the missions while Marshall has asked for partners to join the “Team Australia approach to solve our seemingly unsolvable challenges”.

$100 million annually will be directed to the co-creation of these missions, which include:

  1. Increase our resilience & preparedness against pandemics
  2. Mitigate the impact of disasters: drought, bushfires and floods
  3. Create a hydrogen industry to generate a new clean energy export industry
  4. Accelerate the transition to agile manufacturing for higher revenue and sovereign supply
  5. Overcome our growing resistance to antibiotics, so they keep saving lives
  6. Create a national climate platform to navigate climate change uncertainty
  7. Help our farmers overcome drought, mitigate climate impacts, increase yield and profitability, create a sustainable Future Protein Industryand leverage the world’s love of Australian-grown food to collectively drive our trusted agriculture and food exports to $100 billion
  8. Use technology to navigate Australia’s transition to net zero emissions, without derailing our economy
  9. Safeguard the health of our waterways by monitoring the quality of our water resourcesfrom space
  10. Create new industries that transform raw mineral commodities into unique higher-value products like critical energy metals that build Australia’s value dded offering, jobs, and sovereign supply
  11. The end of plastic waste by reinventing the way plastic is made, processed and recycled.
  12. Double the number of small and medium businesses (SMEs) benefitting from Australian science to become a collaboration nation.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews explained that, “Science and technology are our greatest tools when it comes to maximising opportunities and addressing the challenges that face Australia at this time of great upheaval.

“We need to make sure that our scientists and researchers are working collaboratively with industry to solve real world challenges for the benefit of everyday Australians,” Andrews added.

Dr Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University said, “ANU looks forward to working with CSIRO and its partners to co-design and deliver a national effort to help address some of the globe’s greatest challenges. At this moment, collaborative effort has never been more needed, and ANU will happily answer the call.”