Australia and India plastics research project

The UNSW SMaRT Centre is collaborating with a number of Australian research institutions under the leadership of the CSIRO, and a consortium of Indian researchers, to help solve the waste plastics problem in India and Australia through science and technology.

At a meeting in June 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India agreed to collaborate on an ambitious program to reduce plastic waste.

In this context the Australian Government has announced an industry and research collaboration that identifies new ground-breaking technologies to drive innovation in the plastic supply chain and to create a circular model for plastic.

See this April 2023 update story

Industry and Science Minister Karen Andrews announced the project as part of an announcement of extra funding for the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) in June 2020 to enhance joint research and industry collaboration between Australia and India.

Over 300 million tonnes of plastic is created globally each year yet only 10 per cent of this plastic waste is recycled. Plastic waste also leaks into the environment and creates large problems for terrestrial and marine ecosystems and species.

Both Australia and India need to take action to reduce plastics waste by driving innovation and enabling new technologies and business models that achieve this. By doing so, both countries can reduce the environmental and health impacts of plastic waste and enable new growth industries and employment in a zero plastic waste economy.

The Australian government seeks to leverage CSIRO's research and networks to identify opportunities for Indian authorities and Australian firms to build recycling capabilities and inform the circular economy of plastics.

CSIRO leads an international team of Australian and Indian premier research institutes including the University of New South Wales, the University of Technology in Sydney, the Energy and Resources Institute, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Development Alternatives.

The three-year research program will:

  • Develop metrics and establish datasets that assess the magnitude of the plastics waste problem in India and how quickly it is growing
  • Identify the main supply chains for different types of plastic and the associated waste flows and their destination and leakages to waterways and oceans
  • Co-develop an industry and technology roadmap for a plastics circular economy unlocking future opportunities of plastic recycling and for industrial redesign and the creation of new materials, products, processes and business models that further circularity
  • Identify new industries and enabling sector change through new infrastructure, regulation, market access, skills, culture change and strategic planning achieved through the roadmap process
  • Create innovation capacity by establishing demonstration projects for plastic recycling and industrial redesign by local and Australian industry partnerships.

The research collaboration will work closely with industry and government stakeholders and will evaluate the economic and policy implications of a circular economy for plastics.

Reports and more information

Read our "Towards a circular economy for plastics in India Report"

Read our joint 'A review of the policy framework for a circular economy for plastics in India Report'

Read our "Circular Business Models for Plastics in India Report"

Read our "A material flow analysis of polymers and plastics in India Report"


See the collaboration website.

See this CSIRO announcement story