Home Insights Insights from the 38th Australasian Polymer Symposium

Insights from the 38th Australasian Polymer Symposium

Read time
2  minute read
Date published
06 March 2024
Mitchell Nothling Griffith Hack

Dr Mitchell Nowling recently attended the 38th Australasian Polymer Symposium (APS) held in Auckland. He also presented his recent research with polymer composites,  “Making Polymers with a Hammer” as part of the Composite Materials and Additive Manufacturing stream.

Below Mitch provides his insights on the Symposium.   

The 38th Australasian Polymer Symposium (APS) was an excellent opportunity to reconnect with the local Polymer Science community and to hear first-hand the latest developments in polymer research and industry. After returning to Melbourne and having an opportunity to reflect, here are some themes that stood out to me.

1. Re-connecting the polymer science community

The 38th APS welcomed the return of the symposium from a four-year hiatus, and the first time the conference has been held outside of Australia. A cornerstone of the symposium was the emphasis on re-connecting and nurturing relationships within the close-knit polymer science community.

Leading Australian and New Zealand academic researchers joined academics from over 18 countries and leaders of industrial and government polymer research to foster collaborative networks and exchange ideas on the design, preparation, commercialisation and recycling of new polymer materials. As always, the APS social events were an excellent opportunity to catch up with seasoned veterans and emerging talents in the field to gain insights to the new polymer materials we will be using over the coming decade.

2. Collaboration of industry and academia

The session theme of “Polymers in Industry and Translational Research” brought together industry-focussed university research, new start-ups and established industry research programs into a single forum to exchange ideas on commercialisation and exploitation of new polymer technologies.  

CSIRO Chief Scientist Prof. Bronwyn Fox delivered an exciting plenary lecture on the role of Future Science Platforms at CSIRO, and the long-term vision for nurturing industry, government and academia cross-functional collaborations. Prof. Fox underscored the importance of taking a systems approach to collaboration and offered invaluable insights for how industry and academic partners can work with CSIRO experts to achieve disruptive impact in polymer science and engineering.

3. Embracing sustainability: Polymer science and the circular economy

Another prominent theme that emerged from the symposium was the growing emphasis on sustainability and circular technologies within the polymer science sector. With increasing concerns about environmental degradation from persistent plastic pollution and resource depletion, there has been a notable shift in focus towards developing degradable polymer materials and bio-based polymer feedstocks.

For the first time, the 38th APS included a session focussed on “Polymers for a sustainable future”, showcasing cutting-edge research and industry developments on polymers with in-built degradability, plant and microbe-derived monomers and polymer life-cycle assessment.

The pivot of the polymer science community to tackling the issue of plastic pollution is a timely and invaluable response poised to revolutionise the way we produce, consume and dispose of commodity polymers.

I would like to thank the Program Committee of the 38th APS and RACI Polymer Division for staging an outstanding event and all colleagues in the polymer science community that I met with during the conference.