HDR Scholarship - Biobased polymer for sustainable packaging from denim waste

Applications now open. A PhD scholarship is available to initiate and conduct research on the topic 'Biobased polymer for sustainable packaging from denim waste'.

Project Supervisor

Additional Supervision


Geelong Technology Precinct (GTP), Waurn Ponds Campus

Research topic

This work aims to understand the requirements of converting denim waste (as source of cellulose) to biopolymer for fabrication of bioplastic as an alternative to the non-degradable plastics that are currently used as single-use packaging. The success of this project will lead to the reduction of the use of fossil-fuels and reliance on non-renewable resources. The annual production of jeans is about 3.6 billion pairs. While an average pair of jeans weighs 600g, the total textile Jeans consumption is 2.16 million tons a year, yet discarding of the used denim has a huge impact on the environment. Denim materials are recycled only on a limited scale, though few research projects are reported to convert denim to high added value products e.g. production of pigments or aerogel. It seems there is a long way for commercialisation of these outcomes. Furthermore, the proposed recycled solutions may not be the only resolution for recycling the huge amount of produced denim. Use of cellulosic based biopolymer for packaging is not new, however, the current products don’t meet the required shelf life. This project for the first time uses abundant denim waste to be converted to bioplastic with enhanced shelf life.

Dr Naebe's group has studied the development of bioplastic from cotton gin trash/PVA and fabricated transparent packaging film from PVA/ nanocrystal cellulose from hemp waste with enhanced mechanical properties and degradation. We also initiated preparation of gel solution from pure cotton linters and starch (unpublished data), using thermochemical technique. Based on our ongoing research, we aim to further investigate into fabricating biopolymer from denim waste, enforced with cellulose nanocrystal, to potentially convert it into plastic film while standing the required shelf life.

Project aim

This work aims to understand the requirements of converting denim waste (as source of cellulose) to biopolymer for fabrication of bioplastic as an alternative to the non-degradable plastics that are currently used as single-use packaging.

This project will provide:

  • A new route and purpose for denim waste to produce biopolymer/bioplastic.
  • A new understanding on the thermo-chemical interaction of denim waste in producing cast-able bio polymer solution.
  • A new knowledge on denim waste combination with other bio-based material, e.g., nanocrystal cellulose and starch.

The successful candidate will gain skills and knowledge in a broad range of techniques and scientific areas in this interdisciplinary project on the interface of chemistry, polymer and materials science. In addition they will gain knowledge of a range of characterisation techniques in material science. The understanding from this research will further assist our ongoing research in improving the properties of the biodegradable film made of cotton wastes that can be used as an alternative to the current synthetic plastics. This project aligns with IFM`s vision in leading innovative & transformative research in re-designing materials and advanced technologies for IFM`s Circular Economy strategy.

This research will assist in re-designing materials with extraordinary functionality from waste. The finding from this research will open up new opportunities for textile waste to be applied in new areas such as packaging to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.

Important dates

Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed


This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $28,900 per annum tax exempt (2022 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet Deakin's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component.

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

How to apply

Please apply using the Find a Research Supervisor tool


Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Maryam Naebe

Dr Maryam Naebe
Email Dr Maryam Naebe
+61 3 522 72783