The symposium aims to showcase the latest science and technology research across the plastic waste ecosystem. It also provides opportunities to foster connections and future partnerships.

The program is currently being finalised.


Day One: Tuesday 6 August, 2024

Session 1: Opening plenary


The future of plastics: how can we achieve a goal of an 80 per cent reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2030

Join us for an opening address by the Minister for Innovation and Science, the Hon Ed Husic MP.

CSIRO’s Director of Environment, Dr Dan Metcalfe, will lead a panel session: Looking to the future: what 2030 will look like if we achieve our goal of ending plastic waste entering the environment.

Panel members:

Presentation: Kyle O’Farrell, Director of Blue Environment – Update on Australian plastics flows and trends



Session 2: 


Parallel topic sessions

Health implications of plastics in our ecosystem

Facilitated by: Professor Magdalena Plebanski (RMIT University)


Facilitated by: Professor Nicky Eshtiaghi (RMIT University)

Environmental detection and remediation

Facilitator: Professor Andy Ball (RMIT University)

Microplastics and nanoplastic interaction with human bodies leads to a number of changes, controversially not all are obvious, predictable or deleterious – we will debate their potential for impairing as well as potentially benefiting human health.

The session will examine the challenges of microplastics research including their quantification technique in water and soil, interactions with biota, including toxicity and bioaccumulation, assessing the risks posed by microplastics to ecosystems and human health and its financial burden, and microplastics removal technology.

This session will include key research advances in technologies for detection, monitoring and remediating of plastic waste and pollution across terrestrial and aquatic environments, and management strategies for minimising environmental pollution.



Session 3: 


Parallel topic sessions

Medical plastics
Agricultural plastics

Facilitated by: Dr Anne‑Maree Boland (RMCG)

Construction and built environment

Facilitator: Dr Biplob Pramanik (RMIT University)

Medical plastic waste presents a unique challenge, with specific disposal regulations. Explore the challenge with a specific focus on the use environment and pathways for circularity.

This session will cover current key issues, challenges and opportunities of plastic wastes in agricultural systems, including sources and types of plastics used, collection, storage, processing and recycling of plastic wastes, development of new technologies, management strategies, government policy for diverse agroecosystems.

The construction industry creates plastic waste, but can also be a pathway for incorporation of material waste. Explore opportunities for fit-for-purpose recycled materials in construction.



Session 4: 


Parallel topic sessions

Plastics in food packaging

Facilitated by: Benu Adhikari (RMIT University)

Plastic waste management and recycling: current state of the art

Facilitated by: Dr Adrian Trinchi (CSIRO)

Bioplastics/renewable plastic production: challenges and opportunities

Facilitated by: Dr Albert Ardevol Grau (CSIRO)

Food packaging, while convenient and necessary for food preservation, creates a massive environmental burden due to excessive use, difficulty in recycling, and potential for pollution. This session will explore current research and directions. Over 60% of manufactured plastics are used in food packaging, yet less than 1% is biobased and biodegradable. This session will delve into the current state of biobased, synthetic, and hybrid plastics used for food packaging that are either biodegradable or recyclable. This session will highlight ongoing R&D initiatives and real-life applications, examining the challenges and advancements in compostable and recyclable plastics in the food industry.

To understand current and emerging plastic waste recycling practices, emerging technologies, and the capabilities required to create viable and sustainable recycling sector. The complexities of plastic waste management and industry challenges will be analysed, innovative solutions explored, along with avenues for fostering collaborative partnerships to create a greener, more sustainable future for Australia.

Join us for a series of snapshot presentations on biotechnological approaches for bioplastics production, covering the range of precursors, materials, and applications targeted, as well as source (micro)organisms and associated bioprocesses. Challenges for biopolymer production, processing after production, and optimising yields for viable cost-benefit ratios will also be showcased to help us understand how far away we are from developing a bioplastics production platform.

Session 5: Posters


Hear from our poster presenters who will present research currently underway across a range of focus areas relevant to the ending plastic waste ecosystem. 

Formal symposium dinner


Join us at 6.45pm for a hosted dinner at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, where we can maximise our connections, share ideas and build our networks.


Day Two: Wednesday 7 August, 2024

Session 1: Indo-Pacific Plastic Innovation Network – Looking to the future


Playing a key role in Southeast Asia – ending plastic waste in the environment

Join us for a panel session facilitated by CSIRO’s Indo-Pacific Plastic Innovation Network (IPPIN) Manager Andrea Sosa Pintos exploring the role Southeast Asia (SEA) countries might play to help to end plastic waste – what the world could look like in 2030 if we explore and act on wider collaborative efforts to reduce plastic waste.



Session 2:




Parallel topic sessions

How can Australia increase its speed in transitioning to a circular economy?

Facilitated by: Dr Simran Talwar (UTS)

Understanding life cycle of plastics: data and metrics

Facilitator: Gavin Walker (CSIRO)

Unifying efforts: setting standards and best practice for ending plastic waste

Facilitator: Helen Millicer (One Planet Consulting)

As part of a global effort to eliminate plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics, Australian Environment Ministers have agreed to work with the private sector to design out waste and pollution, keep materials in use and foster markets to achieve a circular economy by 2030. Achieving this outcome will require profound transformational industrial change. There are many initiatives by industry and Australian governments to achieve these changes, but it is a widely acknowledged that there needs to be greater collaboration between all the stakeholders. Some recent initiatives to accelerate achieving this target will be presented and discussed in this session.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) can guide plastic circularity by identifying inputs and impacts throughout a plastic product’s life, informing optimized sustainable materials use for a reduced environmental footprint.

We will cover the role of standards and best practice in promoting the circular economy and innovation across the plastics value chain in Australia. A panel of researchers and industry leaders will provide their perspectives in a Q & A session.




Session 3:



Parallel topic sessions

Achieving change through behaviour and policies
Design for circularity

Facilitator: Professor Usha Iyer-Raniga (RMIT University)

International approaches to integrated systems

Facilitator: Andrea Sosa-Pintos (CSIRO)

Ending plastic waste is a shared responsibility.  Voluntary behaviour change delivers the highest level of autonomy delivering lasting effect while involuntary approaches (e.g. policy) can also create resistance. In this session you’ll learn about approaches that have been applied to reduce or end plastic waste. 

Design is a fundamental aspect of transitioning to a circular economy. Design can address waste through creating smarter products that minimise materials used, design for multiple uses, support long life cycles and allow for the creation of new products and materials that are already in the system. Ultimately, good design moves us towards responsible consumption and production practices. This session will delve into the importance of design, using examples and case studies from plastics and other related sectors. 

What can we learn from others beyond Australia? What is happening on the global stage? We will hear about collaborations, piloting technologies and accelerating innovation.



Session 4: Symposium wrap-up


We will capture what we have learned, and where we can direct attention to continue the fight against plastic waste.


 Symposium end