Australia's island state of Tasmania could be home to a Plastics Cooperative Research Center, if an Australian politician wins sufficient support for the plan.
Sen. Peter Whish-Wilson, from the Australian Greens Party, who represents Tasmania in the federal Senate, chairs the Senate's Environment and Communications References Committee (ECRC). Its new report, "Never waste a crisis: the waste and recycling industry in Australia," recommends a Plastics Cooperative Research Center (CRC) for Tasmania's capital city, Hobart.
ECRC's report says a CRC can "lead Australia's research efforts into reducing plastic waste, cleaning up our oceans and finding end markets for recovered plastic."
Whish-Wilson said a CRC will receive $A5 million (US$3.7 million) a year in federal government base funding, which will be matched by contributions from other governments and industry partners in the plastics and waste sector.
"I envisage Hobart would be the ideal place to base the CRC, given the strengths of the University of Tasmania in marine and environmental science. The CRC would employ a minimum of 70 staff to begin with, which would grow as the co-contributions of partners increased. The center would be staffed by oceanographers, ecologists, toxicologists, policy experts, and designers and engineers," Whish-Wilson said.
"We are only just beginning to understand the impacts of plastic pollution on wildlife and especially on human health as plastics accumulate in the food chain," he said.
"We need to create an integrated science program that examines sources and [the] fate of plastic pollution [and] environmental and human impacts, and investigates opportunities to address the issue."
The federal government launched the CRC program in 1990. More than 215 have been established around the nation, usually in conjunction with universities. CRCs must bid for funding annually to finance their projects.