“We apply organic chemistry to convert basically a slurry of rotting leaves and shoots into a range of functional packaging materials such as films, boards, cushions and foams,” says Professor Vincent Rouillard, who leads the team.
Catherine Velisha, who runs in Werribee South – where most of the agricultural waste is sourced – says the idea of “using produce to package produce” was an exciting prospect when the researchers first approached her.
The researchers have made promising prototypes over the past few years, but they recognise that developing packaging on a scale that can compete with plastic and other materials is a mammoth challenge.
Nonetheless, Professor Rouillard and his team continue their green revolution.
“We really think that in the coming years Australia could be one of the leading countries to create a new generation of packaging materials that are truly sustainable,” he says.