Circular Economy Research and Development Fund: Materials – Guidelines

Last updated: 12 September 2022
Prior to 1 July 2022, this fund was named the Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund: Materials.

Fund recipients

This grant closed on 19 April 2021. View the fund recipients.

1. Funding overview

Sustainability Victoria (SV) will fund research institutes to partner with industry to undertake research to develop new uses for recycled priority materials. The purpose of the Research and Development (R&D) Fund – Materials is to accelerate markets for recycled priority materials by developing innovative products and processes that will increase confidence and demand for recycled products in Victoria.

SV is offering grants between $75,000 and $300,000 ($1: $1 co-contribution) for research that is innovative, sustainable and supports Victoria’s transition to a circular economy.

The R&D fund supports Research Institutes (Lead Applicant) and Industry Partner(s) to:

  • research, develop and diversify products and processes using recycled priority materials
  • collaborate on innovative solutions that increase the use of recycled materials
  • improve and develop product standards and specifications for recycled materials
  • improve confidence and demand for recycled priority materials.

Timeline – Round 1

Open date – 22 February 2021

Closing date – 3:00 pm, 19 April 2021

Outcome notification – within 90 days from closing date

Please note: times are indicative only and may change.

Applications must be submitted by 3:00 pm on the closing date.

Late applications will not be accepted unless exceptional circumstances apply.

SV Funding agreements must be signed within 30 days of notification of outcome.

Approved projects must be able to be completed within two years of signing the SV funding agreement.

We encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.

The grant program involves a competitive, merit-based application process.

2. What are recycled priority materials?

For the Research and Development Fund – Materials, recycled priority materials include:

  • glass
  • paper and cardboard
  • plastics
  • tyres.

SV will fund projects that increase the use of one or more recycled priority materials through development of new domestic end markets. These materials are prioritised under this Fund as the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has agreed to ban the export of these materials. These materials have specific supply side and/ or demand side barriers that could be overcome with the support of government.

Read more about the implementation of the waste export ban.

For more on recycled priority materials, see Section 10: Definitions.

3. Why is the Victorian Government providing this funding?

Recycling Victoria: A new economy is the Victorian Government’s 10-year policy and action plan that will transform Victoria’s waste and recycling system and strengthen the circular economy.

The policy will drive investment in world-class infrastructure and technology, create cutting-edge local industries and support the creation of thousands of new jobs.

It will also assist businesses to generate less waste through:

  • innovation and design
  • using recycled materials in products
  • considering impacts across product life cycles
  • exploring new circular economy business models.

To support this transformation there needs to be strong markets for recycled materials collected and recovered.

SV is leading the delivery of the Markets Acceleration Program (MAP) to increase demand for recycled materials across the economy by supporting the development of innovative products and processes that will transform sectors such as manufacturing and construction in Victoria.

MAP contributes to the goals set out in the Recycling Victoria Policy by investing in research, industry capability uplift and market development activities; to increase Victoria’s capacity to produce and supply recycled materials for re-use domestically, whilst simultaneously working to improve end user confidence in recycled products.

Common barriers that restrict the uptake of recycled materials, include:

  • lack of appropriate specifications and standards
  • access to funds to undertake specific testing and product validation
  • inconsistent quality and quantity of materials
  • high transport and processing costs
  • fluctuations of the market price for virgin materials
  • limited information on the performance of products using recycled content.

This Fund aims to overcome some of these barriers by:

  • providing financial support for research institutes and industry to collaborate on innovative solutions for recycled materials
  • supporting diversification of products and processes using recycled priority materials; both existing and emerging
  • developing standards, specifications and guidance materials for recycled content
  • identifying and developing new domestic markets for recycled materials
  • supporting Victoria’s transition to a circular economy.

4. About Research and Development Fund – Materials funding

4.1 Compliance criteria

Applicants must meet all the following compliance criteria to be considered for progression to eligibility. These will be assessed on a pass/fail basis.

Applicants must:

4.2 Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding applicants must:

  • investigate at least one of the following recycled priority materials:
    • glass
    • paper and cardboard
    • plastics
    • tyres
  • be a Victorian based Research Institute (see section 10. Definitions)
  • have a current Australian Business Number (ABN) and have been operating for a minimum of two years at the time of the application closing date
  • provide evidence of accreditation (e.g. National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia or similar standard) if the applicant is a privately-owned research facility
  • have at least one industry partner (Lead Industry Partner) who must have an ABN and operations in Victoria
  • ensure all Industry Partners have a current ABN
  • meet or exceed the minimum $1: $1 co-contribution requirement for funding
  • have project activities that largely take place (more than 50%) in Victoria
  • complete the project within two years of signing the funding agreement with SV.

4.3 Funding

The amount requested from SV can be between a minimum $75,000 and up to a maximum $300,000 excluding GST.

A financial co-contribution will be sought at a ratio of $1: $1.

Minimum 20% of the co-contribution must be provided by the Lead Industry Partner.

The remaining 80% of the co-contribution can be split as required, between the Lead Applicant and Industry Partner(s).

You must identify and declare any funding from other government sources, for example Australian Research Council (ARC) or Cooperative Research Centre’s (CRC) used towards your co-contribution.

4.4 What will be funded?

SV funding can be used for the following project costs:

  • dedicated/additional staff costs to undertake the project (including project management and research)
  • research and development activities (including product design and development, laboratory testing and altering existing processing approaches)
  • costs that support development of specification and standards
  • prototype development including any costs associated with manufacture
  • leasing of equipment for product testing and validation
  • procurement of materials and services supporting research and development
  • consultancy or contract work, including outsourcing testing to an accredited laboratory (NATA or equivalent)
    Note: projects may outsource a specific component to an inter-state facility
  • product testing and validation to ensure environmental and human health performance
  • costs associated with undertaking a life cycle analysis.

4.5 What won’t be funded?

Funding will not be provided for:

  • projects that do not target one or more of the listed recycled priority materials
  • projects that are being undertaken in order to comply with regulation or a regulatory notice or order
  • projects that don’t meet regulatory or planning requirements
  • project outcomes that are not directly attributable to the SV grant funding
  • projects that do not clearly demonstrate a need for Government support
  • projects that do not demonstrate good value for money
  • requests for retrospective funding, where projects are completed or have commenced prior to signing a funding agreement with SV
    Note: a defined component or next stage of a current, longer term project would be eligible for SV funding. A defined component is a research ‘need’ that has been identified through delivering a funded research project and was not originally included in the project scope.
  • projects that have received funding from any other funding body for the same project activities. Note that funding can be received from other funding bodies for the project; this must contribute to non-SV funded project activities.
    Note: a defined component or next stage of a current, longer term funded research project that has not received funding, would be eligible for SV funding. Refer to definitions: Defined component.
  • capital purchases (e.g. infrastructure or equipment for product testing and validation)
  • marketing, advertising and promotional costs
  • lease or purchase of land
  • permit, licensing and approval costs
  • routine or cyclical maintenance works
  • repair of facilities damaged by vandalism, fire or other natural disasters where the damage should be covered by insurance
  • operating costs such as, but not limited to electricity, water and other utilities; including salaries that are not directly related to delivering the research project
  • purchasing of vehicles (e.g. front-end loaders, forklifts)
  • business case development and feasibility studies
  • pre-construction (site preparation) such as site clearing, earthworks or site accessibility works
  • field trials (external to prototype development/manufacture)
  • travel, conferences and other educational activities
  • research projects addressing separation, collection or sorting of waste for recycling
  • projects using native forestry materials and wastes as a feedstock.

5. Assessment process

5.1 Assessment criteria

Weighted merit criteria

Eligible applications will be assessed using a contested process against the following merit criteria:


Weighting: 30%

Describe what you are going to do and how the project aligns with one or more objectives of the grant program:

  • undertake research to develop new or existing products and/or processes using recycled priority materials
  • investigate the feasibility of innovative technology that increases the use of recycled priority materials
  • improve and develop product standards and specifications to include recycled priority materials.


Weighting: 20%

The Lead Applicant and its Industry Partner(s) have the ability to deliver the project including capability (skills) and capacity (resources)


Weighting: 20%

Describe why the project is needed and how it will improve market confidence and demand for recycled priority materials.


Weighting: 30%

Demonstrate how the project is commercial, feasible and capable of being delivered.

5.2 Diversity considerations

SV may adjust rankings to achieve an overall diversity of:

  • Lead Applicant and size of Industry Partner (small to medium enterprise or large enterprise)
  • products and/or processes researched
  • recycled priority materials (i.e. glass, plastics, tyres and paper and cardboard) investigated.

5.3 Due diligence

A risk-based approach will be used to assess the applicant’s social, economic and environmental risks to the recommendation of funding. This assessment will include the applicant’s Related Entities (if applicable) and will include the Lead Industry Partner.

Applicants and their Related Entities (if applicable) and their Lead Industry Partner should:

  • have had no environmental, safety or workplace breaches in the last five years, or if there was a breach, SV may assess a satisfactory level of risk the applicant’s breach poses
  • have not been the subject of an enforceable undertaking or successful litigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman for a breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 or a fair work instrument within the last five years
  • demonstrate financial capability to undertake the project
  • have adequate insurance as outlined in the funding agreement and below:
    • Public liability $20M minimum
    • Professional indemnity $5M minimum
    • WorkCover
      Note: SV may request insurance details from additional industry partner/s where activities are undertaken by the partner or at their premises.
  • have not failed to satisfactorily progress or complete previous projects funded by SV within funding program timelines and without sufficient reason
  • manage any conflicts adequately.

Assessment of satisfactory level of risk will include but not be limited to SV’s consideration of:

  • the seriousness of any finding/s
  • whether the finding/s has been resolved to the satisfaction of the relevant enforcement agency, or the Applicant can demonstrate it is working effectively to resolve the finding
  • the efforts made by the Applicant including implementation of management systems, to ensure no further finding/s occur, and
  • whether, since the finding, the Applicant has had a satisfactory level of compliance with relevant Environmental and Safety Laws and Workplace Laws.

SV may conduct due diligence checks on the Industry Partner(s) involved in the delivery of the project. The applicant must ensure that any Industry Partner(s) agree to cooperate with this requirement and will provide information at SV’s request.

SV reserves the right not to award funding to applicants where the due diligence risk (including that of Industry Partner(s) is unsatisfactory or not able to be managed.

6. Funding conditions

6.1 What is required of successful applicants?

Successful applicants approved for funding must:

  • provide Certificates of Currency for insurances requested by SV
  • sign the SV funding agreement within 30 days of approval
  • submit a detailed project plan for approval by SV as a milestone under the funding agreement
  • deliver the project as outlined in the application and agreed project plan
  • facilitate progress meetings with SV and Industry Partner(s)
  • participate in activities with SV to distribute the findings to broader stakeholders (e.g. universities, government and industry) during and after the SV funding agreement period
  • provide evidence of a formal partnership (i.e. MoU) between the Lead Applicant and Lead Industry Partner
    Note: there is the option to commit to submitting this required evidence as part of milestone 1 under the SV funding agreement.
  • provide evidence (i.e. letter of support) of partnership for any additional Industry Partner(s) (any Industry Partner other than the nominated Lead Industry Partner)
  • acknowledge the project has been funded by SV in all communications related to the research project
  • provide SV with high-level reports, case studies and data, excluding commercial-in-confidence research findings (Non-Confidential Project Intellectual Property) for general publication
  • make efforts to commercialise the research findings developed as a result of the project (Confidential Project Intellectual Property) over a three-year period after completing the final milestone; commercialisation activities will be reviewed annually for up to three years by SV and if the Project Intellectual Property is not satisfactorily commercialised, the applicant will make the Project Intellectual Property available to SV for broader publication.

7. Key dates

  • Applications open – 22 February 2021
  • Applications close – 3:00 pm, Monday 19 April 2021
  • Notification of outcome – July 2021
  • SV will provide applicants with updates about the progress of their applications as much as possible but cannot provide a definite approval announcement date.
  • Funding agreements established – August 2021
  • Projects commenced by – August 2021
  • Project completed – Within two years of signing the funding agreement with SV or by 30 December 2023.

Please note: these timelines are indicative only and may change.

8. How to apply

Applicants should review and follow these steps:

  1. Read the program’s guidelines
    1. Ensure your organisation is eligible to apply (see Section 4.2: Eligibility Criteria)
    2. Ensure your project meets the assessment criteria (see Section 5.1 Assessment Criteria)
  2. Review the terms and conditions at Materials Research and Development - General Funding Agreement (pdf, 281kB)
    1. Ensure that you meet all terms and conditions.
    2. Acceptance of these terms is required for grant funding to be provided.
  3. Read and understand the Terms of Participation in Grant Programs
  4. Create an account or login and start your application at Sustainability Victoria’s SmartyGrants website
  5. Attend an information session, this is not a mandatory requirement for submitting an application. See Section 9.1 for more details of information session.
  6. Allow adequate time to plan, research, gather support documentation and to draft your application (save as you go).
  7. Complete and submit your application online via SmartyGrants
    a. Complete all questions and upload supporting documents.
    b. Submit your application by 3:00 pm, Monday 19 April 2021
    c. Applications can only be submitted online (unless otherwise agreed or at SV’s discretion).
  8. On submission, you will receive an electronic reply acknowledging receipt from SmartyGrants.
    a. Late applications will not be accepted, except under exceptional circumstances, refer to Terms of Participation in Grant Programs.

Tips for using SmartyGrants

  • Click “Save progress” every 10-15 minutes. This prevents your data from being lost if something happens when you are filling in the form. You will be automatically logged out of your application if 60 minutes has elapsed and you have not saved your progress or navigated between pages. Once logged out, you will lose any changes made that were not saved.
  • If you are attaching files, allow ample time for the file to be uploaded to the page. Wait for the file to be successfully uploaded before going to another page. If not, the file upload will be cancelled. The maximum file limit is 25MB.
  • Once your application has been submitted, you cannot make any changes. Review and check before you submit your application.
  • If you experience difficulties submitting your online application, please contact SV on 1300 363 744 and ask to speak to a grant support representative or email

9. Further information

We have responded to specific questions not addressed on this page or in the guidelines. The list of responses will be updated as required.

Read our responses

9.1 Information session

An information session is available for interested parties. The session will be held online.

  • Date: Thursday 10 March 2021
  • Time: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
  • Location: Microsoft Teams Live event

Register via Eventbrite

A recording will be made available after the session for those unable to attend.

9.2 Questions?

Email with Research and Development Fund – Materials in the subject line.

Alternatively, read our Research and Development Fund – Materials – Information Bulletin and updates.

10. Fund definitions

Defined terms used in this guideline.

Recycled priority materials

Recycled priority materials are those that are scheduled to be banned for export and require the support of government in developing new domestic end market solutions.

For the Research and Development Fund – Materials, recycled priority materials are listed below.

Glass: Glass includes the following categories:

  • Post-consumer glass: Predominately packaging waste (containers) and to a much lesser degree flat glass (windows) and other sources.
  • Glass cullet: Glass recovered, sorted and crushed and suitable for recycling through glass manufacturing.
  • Glass fines: Glass recovered from the waste stream but unsuitable for use in glass manufacture due to the particles being too small and/or mixed with other material streams.

Paper and cardboard: Post-consumer kerbside and/or commercial mix of fibre-based packaging and non-packaging papers made from wood. Includes materials such as magazine, newspaper, printing and writing paper, corrugated cardboard and other fibre-based formats. Materials from recovered paper and cardboard are typically reused to manufacture recycled paper, packaging material and boxes.

Plastics (flexible and rigid): Plastic products can be broadly grouped as either flexible or rigid. The major plastic polymer types are identified by a Plastics Identification Code number from 1 to 7.

  • Flexible plastic products can be used for both packaging and non-packaging items (such as bags, pouches, sachets, wraps) and flexible polymer wraps used in logistics (such as pallet wrap, silage wrap or wheat storage bags).
  • Rigid plastics are found in products such as bottles, containers, toys and building products like pipes.
    This Fund includes synthetic fibres (textiles) made from polymer codes 1 to 7 with a minimum 70% synthetic fibre.

Tyres: Rubber (predominantly tyres) are a manufactured product and vary in composition depending on manufacturer and tyre type. There are three main tyres used for vehicles – passenger (cars, motorcycles and caravans), truck (light and heavy vehicles, buses) and off-the-road (agricultural, mining, construction and demolition). Most tyres contain approximately one-half rubber, one-fifth carbon black and one-fifth steel, with minor proportions of textiles and other additives.

Other definitions

Circular economy: The Recycling Victoria policy defines circular economy as:

“A circular economy continually seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption, while enabling economic growth through more productive use of natural resources.

It allows us to avoid waste with good design and effective recovery of materials that can be reused.

It promotes more efficient business models that encourage intense and efficient product use, such as sharing products between multiple users, or supplying a product as a service that includes maintenance, repair and disposal.

The value people obtain from the resources used to create goods and services increases.

It transforms our linear economy mindset—take, use and throw away—and fosters innovation and productivity that invigorates existing businesses and creates new ones, delivering more jobs and more growth for local, regional, state and global economies.”

Co-contribution: The applicant’s required cash or in-kind contribution to the total project income. Co-contributions can include both in-kind and financial (cash).

  • Note: The Lead Industry Partner must contribute a minimum 20% of the co-contribution for this project. The remaining 80% of the co-contribution can be split as required, between the Lead Applicant and/or Industry Partner(s).
  • Note: You must identify and declare any funding from other government sources, for example Australian Research Council (ARC) or Cooperative Research Centre’s (CRC) used towards your co-contribution.

In-kind contribution: An in-kind contribution is a contribution of a good or a service other than money. These goods and services are valued at their fair market value.

In-kind co-contributions may include:

  • salaries paid by the Lead Applicant and Industry Partner (s) for employee’s time
  • voluntary labour such as unpaid research time
  • donated goods or services such as recycled or virgin materials for laboratory testing or prototype manufacturing.

Financial (cash) co-contributions may include:

  • contractor costs (i.e outsourcing testing to a research facility to support research)
  • procurement of materials and services supporting this research
  • costs associated with the procurement or hire of equipment.

Ineligible co-contributions include:

  • operating expenses not directly associated with delivering the project
  • opportunity costs such as staff ‘downtime’ during implementation of research activities.

Commercialisation: The process through which R&D is transformed into marketable products, capital gains, income from licences and/or revenue from the sale of new product or processing approach.

Defined component: A defined component is a research ‘need’ that has been identified through delivering a funded research project and was not originally included in the project scope.

Environmental, safety or workplace breach: An environmental or safety breach is any past or current prosecution, reportable incident, investigation, notice, penalty, warning, regulatory intervention or enforcement action from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Victorian WorkCover Authority (WorkSafe) or Fair Work or failure to comply with any environmental, safety and workplace laws.

Environmental and safety laws: Environmental and safety laws are the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, Environment Protection Act 1970 or any other legislation, regulation order, statute, by-law, ordinance or any other legislative or regulatory measure, code, standard or requirement relating to the protection and safety of persons or property or which regulate the environment including laws relating to land use planning, pollution of air or water, soil or groundwater contamination, chemicals, waste, the use, handling, storage or transport of dangerous goods or substances, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, or any other aspect of protection of the environment.

Industry partner: Is any organisation listed below operating in or representing manufacturers seeking to use recycled priority materials in a product or a process including through the development of specifications and standards.

These include:

  • government
  • industry association or peak body
  • commercial/for-profit business
  • not-for-profit or a social enterprise.

An Industry Partner is any organisation assisting in the delivery of the Lead Applicant’s research project. There is no requirement for any minimum length of operation for Industry Partners. All Industry Partners must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN).

Industry Partners who are not listed as the Lead Industry Partner do not need to have operations in Victoria.

For this program a small to medium enterprise is an organisation that employees under 200 employees and a large enterprise is an organisation that employees over 200.

Lead industry partner: If the project has more than one Industry Partner, the Lead Applicant must nominate a Lead Industry Partner. The Lead Industry Partner, can be defined as above under ‘Industry Partner.’ The nominated Lead Industry Partner must contribute a minimum of 20% of the co-contribution for the research project and provide evidence of partnership (i.e. MoU or similar agreement). For any additional Industry Partner(s) evidence of partnership is required such as a letter of support. The Lead Industry Partner must have a current Australian Business Number (ABN) and have operations in Victoria. There is no requirement for any minimum length of operation for Lead Industry Partners.

Lead applicant: Must be a research institute, (refer to definition of research institute) and will be responsible for the contractual obligations of the funding agreement with Sustainability Victoria if successful for grant funding. The Lead Applicant must have at least one Industry Partner and is responsible for managing the project outcomes and deliverables of any formal agreements with its Industry Partner(s). The Lead Applicant must have been operating for at least 2 years at the time of the application closing date.

Operations in Victoria: To be eligible to apply for funding the Lead Applicant and its Lead Industry Partner must have an office or sales staff permanently based in Victoria.

Pre-consumer: Recycled materials (diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process).

Post-consumer: Recycled materials (after use by households, business or industrial facilities).

Process: Includes investigating the feasibility of an innovative process that increases the use of recycled priority materials. This can include a series of operations or steps to change a recovered material or reprocessing system such as melting, extruding or crushing to enable the material to be used in the manufacture of a new product. It does not include separation, collection or sorting equipment or infrastructure.

Prototype: A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product developed to test a concept or process.

Related entities: Entities which are related to the applicant and includes:

  • holding companies of the applicant
  • subsidiaries of the applicant
  • subsidiaries of holding companies of the applicant
  • companies with common directors or shareholders as the applicant
  • companies that are a beneficiary under a trust of which the applicant is a trustee
  • trustees of a trust under which the applicant is a beneficiary
  • companies that conduct business at the same address as the applicant, or the same address as the location of the activity for which the funding is sought.

Related persons: Related person means a director, officer, employee, agent, board member or contractor of the applicant or a Related entity.

Recycled content: Waste material that has been recovered, reprocessed and recycled in the creation of a new product. Waste materials include those:

  • diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process
  • or after use by households, businesses or industrial facilities.

Recycled product: Any product that incorporates a percentage of waste material that has been recovered, reprocessed and recycled (see Recycled content).

Research and Development (R&D): R&D activity is generally considered to be characterised by originality. The primary objective is investigation with the outcome being new knowledge with a specific practical application, or new or improved materials, products, or processes. R&D ends when work is no longer primarily investigative.

For this Fund, the following R&D activities related to the recycled priority materials include:

  • product design and development, including life cycle analysis and prototype manufacture
  • investigating new or altering existing processing or manufacturing technology
  • laboratory testing to validate a product or process.

Research institute (Lead applicant): An organisation that can carry out R&D activities as defined in the R&D definition above. A research institute can be a tertiary education institution, a government agency established for the purpose of research, a Cooperative Research Centre, an Institute or Centre for Research or a privately owned and accredited research facility, that is based in Victoria. Consultancies are not considered to be research institutes for the purposes of this grant program.

Workplace laws: Workplace laws are the Fair Work Act 2009, or any other legislation, regulation order, statute, by-law, ordinance or any other legislative or regulatory measure, code, standard or requirement relating to the provision of fair, relevant and enforceable minimum terms and conditions for all persons and to prevent discrimination against employees.


Grants Support Representative