$60 million pledged to tackle hard-to-recycle plastics

By Rachael Ridley  August 3rd, 2023

The Australian Government has boosted the Recycling Modernisation Fund with a new funding stream targeted at plastic recycling technology to increase recycling rates for plastics.

Grants of up to $20 million are available to businesses nation-wide as part of a collaboration between federal and state governments to address gaps in Australia’s recycling infrastructure. The grants will focus on ‘hard-to-recycle plastics’ such as soft plastics, used to make things like plastic bags and food packaging, as well as mixed, multi-layered, and contaminated plastics.

As part of the Recycling Modernisation Fund (created by the Australian Government to improve Australia’s recycling infrastructure), the new Plastics Technology Stream aims to boost the recovery and recycling rates of plastics, which currently sits at just 13% nationally1. The objective is to build onshore capacity and confidence in investment for plastics recycling by funding projects that provide new or improved infrastructure, technology, machinery, equipment, or processes.

Major investment in onshore plastics recycling and processing infrastructure is critical to meeting demand for the millions of tonnes of plastic waste generated in Australia each year. In 2020-21, approximately 2.63 mega tonnes (millions of tonnes) of plastics were consumed, with 87 per cent ending up in landfill1. With restrictions on the export of plastics for recycling in effect as of July 20222, industry and governments are under pressure to provide homebased solutions that increase recycling rates, particularly for plastics that are difficult to recycle such as soft plastics.

“The new Plastics Technology Stream is designed to deliver national solutions to drive significant increase in Australia’s recycling and recovery rates for hard-to-recycle plastics and increase collaboration across supply chains to promote a safe circular economy,” said Mike Burns, Director of the Recycling Modernisation Fund Section, in a webinar by the Department for Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water (DCCEEW).

Projects awarded grants will be financed by the federal government with contributions from some state and territory governments and industry. The projects will join 94 other projects awarded grants under the Recycling Modernisation Fund to date, which collectively are estimated to increase recycling capacity by more than one million tonnes per year3.

Grant details and how to apply

To be successful, businesses must contribute at least 50 per cent of the eligible project financial costs and be able to show how their project will help lift Australia’s plastics recycling rates based on objective data.

Grants between $1 million and $20 million are available to:

  • advanced recycling projects targeting hard-to-recycle plastics

  • commercialisation or scaling-up of emerging and trial technology

  • technology to extract plastics from products (such as e-waste) to make high-value products

  • equipment for existing or new material or plastic recovery facilities

  • end-to-end solutions for our plastics supply chain.

Businesses operating across the plastics supply chain can collectively apply for a grant, such as a collaborative application between a collection and sorting facility of plastic waste, an advanced recycling facility and manufacturers.

Businesses must apply for the grant through state and territory governments. A comprehensive list of contacts by state is available on the DCCEEW website. Applications close on the 13th of November 2023, however, proposals to state and territory governments close earlier:

  • WA – expressions of interest open until 14th of August, with full applications closing 18th of September

  • Victoria – closes 4th of September

  • Tasmania – closes 8th of September

  • Queensland – closes 11th of September

  • NSW – closes 12th of September

  • NT – closes 13th of November but businesses are encouraged to engage earlier

  • ACT and SA – TBC

Businesses are encouraged to engage their state and territory governments as early as possible for information on how to seek support in the application process.


12022 National Waste Report

2Exports of Plastic Waste, Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water

3Recycling Modernisation Fund data viewer

Rachael Ridley

Rachael joined Planet Ark in early 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor, and writer. Rachael loves using her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys spending time in nature, listening to music, and patting dogs.

Related Stories

Founding Partner

Official Sponsor