The Plastic Collective


Louise Hardman is the founder of The Plastic Collective, a company creating a solution for waste plastic to enable remote communities to recycle all their waste plastic into valuable resources.

The Plastic Collective works with communities, who are often forgotten by the rest of the world, as they struggle to hold back the tide of plastic waste engulfing their environment. The collective works holistically to provide:

  • education programs that encourage plastic to be seen as a valuable recyclable resource and not rubbish.
  • machinery and training to operate a sustainable plastic recycling micro-enterprise. 
  • a marketplace for communities to sell their valuable recycled plastic.

Louise Hardman is the founder behind this amazing company. She started out with a passion to stop marine life dying from the injestion of plastics, and has been on this quest, slowly building on the successes with 6 degrees providing a support platform and connector along the way.

With the kernel of the idea and the designs of a prototype in hand, Louise honed her pitching skills at our regular 6 degrees events. Once she was confident enough and had workshoped the main points and business model, she was ready to pitch in our innaugural Startup Coffs Coast Pitch Competition. At the time her business was called The Pacific Collective, and she wowed the judges not only to win the Grand Prize of $5,000 but also one of the judges, Mark Wolfe, was so impressed with the concept and potential impact that he came on board as a co-founder. 

As part of this winning package, The Plastic Collective was part of a Coffs Harbour delegation that attended StartCon in Sydney later that year. An opportunity for them to showcase the project at Australia's largest startup conference.

This was followed by a whole load of development work and a lot of hustle by Louise - and we mean a lot! Like hustling all the way to London at the request of the Prince of Wales for his International Sustainability Unit meeting on Plastic Pollution & The Circular Economy. That kind of hustle is what it takes.

The results of all this dedication and focus resulted in being awared a $2.5 million CRC Grant in 2020 to develop the project further. The Plastic Collective, now based at the National Marine Science Centre (NMSC) partnered with researchers, engineers and designers from Southern Cross University, Emalte International and SouthPole for this project.

All this rounded out recently with the Gowings Whale Trust jumping on board. They are financing the MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation in Bowaraville to run a recycling operation for the Plastic Collective, giving recycled plastic a new life – out of our waterways and off our beaches. Plastic recovered by Aboriginal Sea Rangers from (Bowraville, Nambucca and Macksville) will be broken down and turned into plastic pellets with a monetary value, by the MiiMi Corporation. The process is funded by a donation of $167,000 from the Gowings Whale Trust to purchase a Shruder, the innovative plastic recycling machine invented by Louise Hardman. The pellets will be purchased by the Gowings company, Surf Hardware International, for the creation of surfboard fins and surf accessories. Completing the circle, Surf Hardware International donate 1% of their profits back to the Gowings Whale Trust, who are funding the Plastic Collective. Win-win-win-win-win.

It will come as no suprise, that after all this work Loiuse was nominated as NSW 'Local Hero' Australian of the Year in 2020.