A/Prof. Kei Saito is currently an Associate Professor of Green and Sustainable Chemistry, School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Monash University, Australia. Before joining Monash, he was a Visiting Research Associate at the Graduate School of Science and Engineering and at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University, Japan for a year and he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Green Chemistry, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA for 2.5 years.
Fighting Polymer Waste: Biodegradable Polymers and Recycling Strategies
Bronwyn Laycock has a diverse background in translational research – degradable polymers, biomaterials, organic and organometallic synthesis, pulp and paper chemistry, and general polymer chemistry. She is currently working across a range of projects with a focus on materials for circular economy applications. A key area is the production and processing of biodegradable, bioderived polymers, including their fundamental crystallisation kinetics, compositional distribution and morphologies, mechanical property manipulation, and production of blends and (nano)composites for desirable properties and novel applications. The application areas in her research program include biopolymers (particularly polyhydroxyalkanoates), biocomposites, controlled release matrixes for pesticide and fertiliser applications, polyurethane chemistry, polymer foams, biodegradable packaging, carbon nanofibre production and peptide based conducting nanowires. In recent years the main focus has been on the mechanistic characterisation of polyhydroxyalkanoates produced using mixed culture bacteria and fermented waste carbon streams and their analogues.
As a Project Leader and Deputy Program Leader within the CRC for Polymers, she managed a project that delivered an oxodegradable thin film polyethylene that was commercially licenced by Integrated Packaging. This work earned the team a Joint Chairman’s Award for research/commercialization (CRC for Polymers) and an Excellence in Innovation Award (CRC Association).
As a former Senior Research Scientist (CSIRO Division of Molecular Science), she was also awarded the Joint CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement 2009 for her work on the extended wear contact lens project (within the Vision CRC), which was successfully commercialised by Ciba Vision as the Focus Day/Night and the O2Optix lenses. More than half of all contact lenses sold in the world today are silicone hydrogel lenses, which had their genesis in Australia through the CRC program, bringing much increased comfort to millions of people worldwide. In 2007 alone, the licence revenues from the sale of these products earned the Vision CRC more than $15 million. These extended wear contact lenses are recognised as CSIRO’s fourth top invention (http://www.csiro.au/en/About/History-achievements/Top-10-inventions).
She also has extensive experience in statistical analysis in diverse processes such as wastewater chemistry, kinetics of chemical reactions etc. and has four years’ experience in the pulp and paper industry, working on novel chlorine-free bleaching technologies.
Sebastian Spierling is research associate and team leader sustainability at IfBB – Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites at the Hochschule Hannover. He has a background in bioprocess engineering and is working in the area of bioplastics and biocomposites since 2012. His research focus is life cycle assessment of these materials along their value chain.