Coffs Coast’s Louise Hardman nominated as NSW ‘Local Hero’ Australian of the Year

by Nov 3, 2020

Fig 1. Louise starting out in her garage, shredding plastic milk bottles from the Shruder.

A number of years ago, Louise Hardman, a 22 year old passionate zoologist, was working as the Project Officer for the newly established Solitary Islands Marine Park Reserve. While leading a research team to rescue, tag and rehabilitate turtles in the Coffs Harbour area, she discovered a small green turtle lying on the banks of Wooli River of Yuraygir National Park; a pristine area within the Marine Reserve. The turtle survived for 3 days, but unfortunately died from ingesting large amounts of plastic debris caught in the seagrass. This tragedy inspired Louise to start her search for solutions to prevent plastics from entering the ocean and after 25 years, Louise began the social enterprise Plastic Collective. 

Fig 2. In 1992 Louise Hardman and Greg Pickering @Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, rescuing a marine turtle which died from ingesting mixed plastics. 

Louise had a mission to prevent plastic entering the oceans, which would take her all over the world, providing education, training and infrastructure to disadvantaged remote and regional communities to address the plastic pollution problem.  By focusing on changing attitudes, Louise believed plastic wasn’t the issue, it was how people treated plastic, she wanted to transform the perception of plastic from “waste” into “resource”. Believing if something has value, you are less likely to throw it away.  This led to the development of Plastic Collective’s proprietary Shruder; an innovative mobile plastic shredder and extruding machine! 

After pitching and winning the Coffs Coast Start Up Competition in 2017, Louise and engineers Emalte developed the prototype machinery and training programs to transform  discarded plastic material into profitable resources for both communities and companies.   Over the next 2 years Plastic Collective delivered three Shruder pilot programs and training programs to remote communities including Ecobarge Cleanseas. Whitsundays, Sea Communities, Les Village North Bali; and Reef Check Malaysia, Mantanani Island, Borneo. These programs and machinery provided communities with the resources and training to address the plastic pollution problem in their environment as well as a marketplace for communities to sell their valuable recycled plastic.

Fig 3. Louise Hardman and Mark Wolf (Emalte), delivering Shruder pilot program and training to Mantanani Island, Borneo, 2019.

These pilot programs helped Louise secure further funding, and in late 2019, partnered with Earthwatch Australia to deliver a project with the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation as part of the Coca-Cola Australia Foundation environment program.  

Shortly after this PC was awarded a $2.49 Million Australian Government, Dept of Innovation and Science CRC-p grant to research and develop the ‘Shruder Recycling Station’ and a more comprehensive system with Plastic Credits. This was a huge milestone for Louise and Plastic Collective as the team grew from 4 to 18 people, located from London, Bangkok, US and Australia (HQ).  

Strong partnerships for this grant included  Southern Cross University, South Pole, and Emalte International,  to research, develop and deliver pilot Shruder Recycling Stations which will be installed in Bowraville, NSW and Gulf of Carpentaria, Qld. By working closely with regional and remote local Indigenous communities in Bowraville and the Gulf, the projects will empower local communities to run a profitable business in resource recovery, and connect their remote areas to the global plastic credit market.  

The Bowraville project is being led by local organisation, Miimi Mothers Aboriginal Corporation, for the Nambucca River catchment area where there are low rates of recycling, with over 85% of plastic materials currently being sent to landfill.  As local regional landfills are rapidly filling, a new plastic economy is required to align with the circular economy.

Louise’s goal is to provide every remote and regional community with the knowledge, tools and resources to eliminate waste and become stewards of their environment, develop positive economic growth for their communities.  

NSW Australian of the Year award ceremony will occur on the 9th November, 2020 in Sydney. The winners from each of the categories will be announced to join other state winners for the final Australian of the Year ceremony on the 25th January, 2021.  Each state will live stream their awards ceremony on FB


For more information contact Louise Hardman,  Founder of Plastic Collective.
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Click on image below to read more about the
Nominations for NSW 2021 Australian of the Year Award
03/11/20: Illawarra Mercury:

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