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7 March 2022 News Release

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1 March launched a new $1.3 million partnership, Plastics Innovation Hub Indonesia, to work with Indonesia to tackle plastic pollution in the Indo-Pacific.

Plastics Innovation Hub Indonesia will bring together researchers, investors, businesses, and community and government leaders from around the Indo-Pacific region to develop solutions that can be implemented in Indonesia to address the challenge of plastic waste in the oceans and waterways.

Each year, 90 billion tonnes of primary materials are extracted and used globally to produce plastics, but only nine per cent is recycled. Within the Indo-Pacific region, it is estimated there are between five and ten billion pieces of plastic on the coastline.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said ocean pollution is a global challenge that Australia can assist with to turn into both an economic and environmental benefit through an innovative, collaborative approach.

"Science can turn this environmental challenge into an economic opportunity by changing the way we behave, and how we make, use, recycle or dispose of plastics, but it will take partnerships across research, business, investors, government and the community to turn the best ideas into real-world solutions," Dr Marshall said.

"Social innovation is just as important as scientific innovation in solving these challenges, so it’s exciting to have partners on the ground in the region shaping and scaling behavioural response for their own communities, and drive change."

As part of CSIRO's development of a mission to end plastic waste, this Indonesian Hub will draw on the latest advances in technology, including technologies like the use of Artificial Intelligence to identify and trace pollution in waterways and harnessing enzymes to degrade PET plastic and microplastics.

Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Penny Williams PSM, said the new Plastics Innovation Hub will help to build on efforts already underway between Australia and Indonesia to address marine plastic pollution in our region.

"The health of our oceans and waterways is linked to our nations’ economic growth and prosperity.  Both Indonesia and Australia are island nations that share concerns about the impact of marine plastic pollution,” Ambassador Williams said.

"We hope this initiative encourages international partners in the region to work together to develop robust measures to identify effective interventions, fill research gaps, and maximise the impact of our joint investment of resources to address this challenging issue."

Director General of Higher Education, Research, and Technology at Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, Professor Nizam, said the Plastics Innovation Hub aims to accelerate and scale up the innovation ecosystem.

"Currently plastic is a problem throughout the world and Indonesia. The Indonesian government has a target to reduce plastic waste by seventy percent by 2025. For this reason, the results of this collaboration are expected to assist with overcoming plastic problems in Indonesia," Professor Nizam said.

"In line with one of the priority issues of Kedaireka: Matching Fund 2022, the green economy, I hope this innovation hub can accelerate the development of research and technology and contribute to plastic solutions worldwide."

The Hub builds on work CSIRO has been undertaking with the Indonesian government and Udayana University in Bali to measure, analyse and map plastic pollution in Bali, Java and beyond, to identify hotspots and problematic items for targeted interventions.

It also aligns with discussions taking place at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) this week to develop a coordinated global response on plastic pollution.

The Hub is part of CSIRO's developing Ending Plastic Waste Mission with the goal of an 80 per cent reduction in plastic waste entering the environment by 2030.

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