Woolworths Group is backing a new Australian plastic recycling start-up using “cutting-edge” science to reduce the need for new plastic to be produced.
Created in partnership with researchers at Australian National University (ANU) and CSIRO-founded Main Sequence, Samsara aims to “revolutionise” how packaging on everyday groceries is made and recycled to deliver big benefits for the environment.
Samsara’s enzyme technology has been developed by ANU scientists to break down used plastic into its basic building blocks. This means it can be recycled time and time again. The ambition is to replace the need for new plastic with an infinite recycling loop.
Unlike traditional recycling, which is said to generally use physical methods to shred and melt plastics together for reuse, Samsara’s enzymes chemically break down plastic and can return coloured plastic to clear so it can be used in any product.
Woolworths Group is helping Samsara bring the potential of infinite recycling to life – and to its supermarkets – working together to trial the new technology in its own packaging.
Woolworths Group has committed to turn the first 5000 tonnes of recycled Samsara plastic into packaging for its own brand products.
Starting with packaging like the containers used for its own brand mini tomatoes, Woolworths Group will work with Samsara to take its technology from the lab to its supermarkets. The first Samsara packaging is expected to hit Woolworths shelves in the next two years.
A top environmental concern
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci says the retailer knows plastics and recycling are some of its customers’ top environmental concerns.
“We want to help build a future where the plastic they put in their shopping basket is treated like a resource, which can be used over and over again,” he says.
“That’s why we’re partnering with leading Australian scientists to create a better tomorrow by co-founding Samsara and turning used plastic into new again, so there’s no need to make more.
“We want to be part of the solution and to use Australian innovation to make our products better for the planet. We’ll also be helping other retailers and our supplier brands to do the same.
“We’ll continue to work hard to reduce plastic packaging, but where we can’t cut it out altogether, we can use Samsara to make products plastic neutral – 100% recycled, and 100% recyclable.”
A ‘major breakthrough’
Samsara CEO Paul Riley says Samsara is a major breakthrough because it’s able to make plastic infinitely recyclable.
“This means we will never have to create new plastic from scratch using fossil fuels again, and we can save plastic from our oceans and landfill to give it a new life in new products,” he says.
“We’re excited to bring together Australian science and Australia’s largest retailer Woolworths to create greener packaging in supermarkets across the country and create a closed loop for plastic.”