An ANU-backed start-up that is turning the tide on the wave of plastic pollution flooding our planet has taken out a top prize in one of Australia’s major sustainability awards.

Samsara, launched last year with backing from ANU, Woolworths and venture fund Main Sequence, uses enzymes to break down plastics to their core elements. These “building blocks” are the used to create new plastics.

The enviro-tech start-up won the Ignite category in the Banksia National Sustainability Awards for its “revolutionary” process of “infinite recycling”.

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the win was another example of how fundamental research could be transformed into products and solutions that improved the world.

“Samsara is a powerful demonstration of how fundamental research – what we do on the ANU campus every single day – makes our world a better place,” he said.

“Our planet is choking on plastic; it destroys ecosystems, kills wildlife and causes major pollution.

“Our clever chemists have not only found a way to help break down plastics to their fundamental buildings blocks monomers, which are then used to create new plastics, but are now using their incredible discovery to turn the tide on the relentless wave of plastic pollution our planet is drowning under.

“I want to congratulate the entire Samsara team on this well-deserved and important recognition.”

Members of the research team funded by Samsara Eco. From left: Rosemary Georgelin, Dr Brendon Lee, Vanessa Vongsouthi, Dr Josemon George, Matthew Spence, Professor Colin Jackson. Photo: ANU Research School of Chemistry

Samsara’s novel recycling process is carbon-neutral and environmentally friendly, as well as removing the need to rely on fossil fuels to create plastics.

Woolworths Group has already committed to turn the first 5,000 tonnes of recycled Samsara plastic into packaging for its own brand products, with the new packaging expected to hit the shelves in the next two years.

Paul Riley, Founder and CEO of Samsara said: “The current approach to recycling is simply inefficient and ill-equipped to handle the plastic pollution crisis we are faced with today. It’s why we started Samsara — to provide an entirely new approach to how plastic is made and recycled.

“Instead of mining for fossil fuels to create new plastics or relying on current recycling methods which result in only nine per cent being actually recycled, we can take plastic that already exists and infinitely recycle it.

“Our long-term vision is to extend our technology capabilities to infinitely recycle other oil-derived plastic products like clothes made from polyester and nylon so we never use fossil fuels to create new plastic again.”

Established more than 30 years ago, the Banksia National Sustainability Awards recognise individuals, communities, businesses and government for innovation and excellence in environmental and social stewardship.

Samsara’s win in the Banksia awards comes hot off the heels of $6 million in new funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Woolworths Group’s venture capital fund W23 and Main Sequence Ventures.

Learn more about Samsara at

Contact the media team

James Giggacher

Associate Director, Media and Communications

You may also like

Article Card Image

Start-up to tackle plastic crisis with ‘infinite recycling’

A new Australian enviro-tech start-up backed by ANU will "infinitely" recycle plastic to help solve the global plastic pollution crisis.

Article Card Image

Six ANU researchers elected to the Australian Academy of Science

A number of talented ANU researchers have been elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

Article Card Image

ANU funding wins to improve quality of life for all Australians

An Indigenous wellbeing index and stopping the ‘loneliness epidemic’ are just some of six ANU projects to receive government funding.

Subscribe to ANU Reporter