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New plastic and polymers materials research centre launched to aid manufacturing

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Integrated Packaging is one of 23 participants involved in the national cooperative research initiative for Australia’s $9 billion polymers industry. The Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers (CRC-P) includes five companies (Virbac Australia, BASF, BlueScope Steel, Mesoblast and Integrated Packaging), 11 universities, CSIRO and ANSTO. 

The initiative aims to bring science and industry together to develop products that meet emerging global needs in the areas of health therapies and delivery, water and food security, and low-cost solar energy, using advanced polymer technology. 

The Head of Division for AusIndustry, Ms Chris Butler formally launched a five-year extension of the Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers (CRC-P) supported by funding of $14.5 million from the CRC program. With further resources provided by its participants, the CRC will conduct over $60 million of research to assist Australian manufacturing. 

Polymers include plastics, and more than $9 billion worth of polymers and polymer-based products are used annually in almost all sectors of the Australian economy. The CRC-P has a strong track record of developing technologies for the plastics industry, including ceramifying polymer technology, first used in 2003 by Australia’s Olex Cables in a new range of fire performance cables. 

In this phase of funding, the CRC will help Australian manufacturers develop new products through clever chemistry and strong industry collaboration. The CRC gives companies access to researchers such as the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science winners, chemists Ezio Rizzardo and David Solomon, who know how to control the structure and composition of polymers so their properties are tailored to provide new and improved process and products. 

CRC is targeting products better suited to the needs of Australians. These include a new single injection vaccine for cattle tick that relies on a biopolymer-based delivery system; polymers that will help farmers increase crop yields, including polymer-based sprays for improving water penetration in water-repellent soils and better polymer encapsulants for thin film solar cells. 

CEO Ian Dagley said the Polymer CRC will build resilience into Australian manufacturing by improving sustainability and product innovation, increasing its international competitiveness. Key benefits of the initiative will include productivity gains, increased sales of Australian made products, high-skill high-value manufacturing jobs, reduced carbon dioxide emissions and 40 broadly trained polymer researchers. 

The launch was held at a Melbourne production site of Integrated Packaging, a leading Australian manufacturer of plastic stretch films. Integrated Packaging’s previous research with the CRC has resulted in improved technology to control the degradation of plastic films in the environment.

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