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The Future of Plastics and the Circular Economy

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

There are a number of significant issues facing our plastics industry. One of these issues is waste plastics in the environment. Another one being what to do with the ever increasing volumes of plastics waste in Australia now that there are limitations in the number of countries in the World which are willing to accept our surplus waste.

The National Sword Policy by the Chinese Government, which has virtually called a halt to our waste exports, seems to be a blessing in disguise for our plastics industry in Australia (and elsewhere in the World). This Policy has shaken the industry and society into action.

This action was long overdue as mentioned each year at the Annual Conferences on Plastics and Waste by the Australia-New Zealand Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers since the inception of this Conference in 2010. It was Dr Kevin Thomson who showed us at that Conference that the measurements on plastics waste as presented by the industry were most likely under-representing the actual data by about 50%. Already then there was a need for dealing locally with our waste and change our reliance on exports of waste.

In spite of these warnings, Australia has been relying on China to deal with large volumes of its undesirable waste. See for an informative document the publication of the MRA Consulting Group: China National Sword: The role of the Federal Government, 16th April 2018, as prepared for ACOR.

The industry in general needs to accept responsibility for this in-action and we now all need to work together to find and implement solutions. The industry associations in Australia have an important role to play in making this happen, the SPE in particular.

Our Conference on “The Future of Plastics and the Circular Economy” is aiming at making a contribution by presenting actions, solutions and supporting technology from elsewhere in the World (and locally) which could assist Australian society in its collaborative effort.

It will mean adjustment, require significant investment, also in research, it will create new jobs, and new industries and expand existing ones. It will bring along a change in behaviour, hopefully supported by regulations (and even law). We will have to create pull for recycled materials and its applications. Our plastics industry will benefit from these changes, as will society in general.

SPE will support this effort by providing knowledge, know-how and education to the plastics and related industries.


Conference Program:

7:45 am

Registration at hotel

8:20 am


Han Michel, Event Coordinator

8:25 am

Official opening conference

Russell Speight, President SPE: A-NZ Section

8:30 am

Keynote: The New Plastics Economy, Rethinking the Future of Plastics

Sander Defruyt, Lead New Plastics Economy, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Belgium

(by video)

9:10 am

Keynote: Enabling the Circular Economy: The Role of Government

Matt Genever, Director Waste Recovery, Sustainability Victoria

9:40 am

Sustainable Plastics Packaging: Problems, Challenges, Solutions

Ed Kosior, Managing Director, Nextek, UK (by video)

10:10 am

Towards 2025, National Packaging Targets

Peter Brisbane, Government Partnership Manager

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation

10:30 am


11:00 am

Keynote: Pushing Boundaries, Fresh Perspectives on the Circular Economy: How Covestro is Using Carbon and People to Drive Sustainability

Rebecca Lucore, Head of Sustainability & CSR, Covestro USA

11.30 am

Revelations on Plastics Circular Economy Programs, Bans and Trends in EU and SE Asia from Churchill Trust Scholarship, and Implications for Australia

Helen Millicer, GAICD, Churchill Fellow on Circular Economy and Plastics

12:00 pm


Sustainability Victoria, APCO, Covestro USA moderated by Helen Millicer

GAICD, Churchill Fellow

12:30 pm


1:30 pm

Keynote: A New Global Alliance to Help End Plastics Waste

Han Zhang, Asia Pacific Sustainability and Advocacy Leader, Packaging and Specialty Plastics, Dow Chemical, Singapore

2:00 pm

A novel way using a biodegradable polymer in recycling

Brendan Morris, CEO, Plantic Technologies

2:30 pm

Quality filtration in Polymer Recycling

Philipp Niermann, Regional Sales Manager, GNEUSS, Germany

3:00 pm


3:30 pm

Keynote: Veolia and Plastics

Kate Suters, Sustainability Strategist, Veolia Australia

4:00 pm

Efficient ways of transforming washed post-consumer waste into high quality end products

Fritz Wimmer, Sales Manager Asia Pacific, Erema, Austria

4:30 pm


Dow Chemical, Plantic, Gneuss, Veolia, Erema, moderated by Rob Dvorak

Visy rPlastics plant

5:00 pm

Closing remarks

Russell Speight, President SPE: A-NZ Section

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Refreshments and canape’s

The Conference organizers retain the right to change the program without notice.


For further information contact Han Michel on 0416 168 255 or

Conference Sponsors:

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