Tuesday 18 July marks the official launch of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Bioplastics and Biocomposites

As the world integrates bioplastics into a more sustainable plastics economy, there is a real opportunity for Australia to transform our plastics industry, and to become a major global bioplastics player within the next decade.

Thanks to $5 million in funding from the ARC, and the valuable support of industry, government, and university partners, the Centre is working to advance our transition to a sustainable plastics future.

Date: Tuesday 18 July 2023

Time: 9:30am for 10:00am start, 11:30am finish (AEST)

Place: Level 4 Atrium, Andrew N. Liveris Building (#46), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072


Professor Justin Cooper-White, MC, Executive Dean (Acting) of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, UQ

Professor Justin Cooper-White is a global leader in using engineering to solve problems in biology. He is currently the Acting Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, and Head of the School of Chemical Engineering, host school of the Centre. In addition to holding the position of Affiliate Professor in the AIBN, Professor Cooper-White is Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility-Queensland Node, Research Director of the Herston Biofabrication Institute, a partnership between Metro North Hospital and Health Service and UQ, and Co-Director of the Australian Organoid Facility at UQ.

Professor Deborah Terry (AO), Vice-Chancellor and President, UQ

Professor Deborah Terry AO is a highly experienced leader in the Australian university sector – and an internationally recognised scholar in psychology. Since August 2020, Professor Terry has served as Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Queensland (UQ). Professor Terry is a Fellow and past President of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and an appointed member of the ARC Advisory Council. She currently serves on the Boards of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government, AARNET and Westpac Scholars, and she is also as a member of the Universitas 21 Executive Committee. Professor Terry has previously served as Chair of the Board of Universities Australia. She was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in June 2015, in recognition of her distinguished service to education in the tertiary sector.

Dr Richard Johnson, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Research Council

Richard Johnson is Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Research Council. Prior to joining the ARC, he was First Assistant Secretary, Social Cohesion and Multicultural Affairs, in the Department of Home Affairs. He has held a number of senior leadership roles in the Australian government, including Minister Counsellor (Home Affairs) at Australia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, and in international policy in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Richard has a PhD in the history of political philosophy.

Associate Professor Steven Pratt, Centre Director

Associate Professor Steven Pratt is in the School of Chemical Engineering at UQ, where he leads research on process development for sustainable waste management. His research focus is on environmental engineering, known internationally for his work on the development of polyhdroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics, and their associated wood-fibre composites, and nationally for his delivery of training courses to environmental professionals. His research is industrially relevant; he has published on models for effective industry-education partnerships.

Mr Mark Barthel, Chief Operating Officer, Stop Food Waste Australia

Mark is an environmental scientist specialising in sustainable innovation in agri-food systems. As part of his work, he has spent nearly 20 years leading the fight against food waste and transforming wasted and surplus food into new upcycled food and feed ingredients and innovative new packaging and industrial bio-materials. As CEO at Stop Food Waste Australia, he is leading a public-private partnership to deliver Australia’s target to halve food loss and waste by 2030. Mark has worked with some of the world’s largest food and drink businesses, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Cooperative Foods, ALDI, LIDL, Carrefour, M&S, Walmart, Woolworths, Coles, Compass Group, Simplot, Sodexo, McDonalds, Goodman Fielder, Mars, McCain Foods, Mondelez Int., Unilever, Nestlé and Danone.

Dr Marcus Gover, Minderoo Foundation, Partner Investigator

Marcus leads our global plastics team, who are working towards eliminating the harmful effects of plastic on people and our planet. Former CEO of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), Marcus spent nearly 15 years partnering with industry, government, and communities on plastic waste reduction and circularity. He has a chemical engineering background and a strong track record of driving tangible change in corporate behaviour and public policy.

Mr Sam Lawless, PhD student

Sam completed a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) with a major in Chemistry at UQ in 2020. He began his PhD in 2021 and started developing his project. His research focuses on producing a biodegradable blown film from polyhydroxyalkanoates. His passion lies in applying his chemistry background to help solve real world problems and aims to create a biodegradable alternative to the currently utilized commercial plastic films for food and industrial packaging. At the end of his PhD, Samuel would like to work in the bioplastic industry to further advance his knowledge and apply his expertise in what he believes is a rapidly growing and key industry in the circular economy.

Dr Katrin Kockler, Early Career Researcher

Katrin obtained her PhD in polymer chemistry at the KIT in Germany. In collaboration with BASF, she studied the reaction kinetics of industrially important monomers to determine datasets for planning of space-time yields, reactor setups, or polymer properties in large scale production. Before joining the centre, she investigated photochemical transformations in the Soft Matter Materials labs at QUT and worked at AIBN together with the Sydney based company Aegros on developing customised membrane materials for blood plasma separation. At the Centre she will be using her chemistry background to develop new pathways to improve the performance of biodegradable materials.


9:30am Registration opens, coffee/tea
10:00am Welcome MC Professor Justin Cooper-White

A/Executive Dean, Faculty of EAIT, UQ

Acknowledgement of country  
10:05am Opening remarks Professor Deborah Terry AO

Vice-Chancellor and President, UQ

10:10am Official launch Dr Richard Johnson

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Research Council

10:15am Centre Director’s remarks Associate Professor Steven Pratt

Centre Director

10:20am ‘About us’ video
10:25am Student and ECR presentation Sam Lawless, PhD student

Dr Katrin Kockler, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

10:30am Strategic Advisory Board remarks Mr Mark Barthel

Dr Marcus Gover

10:35am Closing remarks Associate Professor Steven Pratt

Centre Director

10:40am Lab tours and research showcase Morning tea
11:30am Event close