As images of rising landfills and environmental devastation dominate our news feeds, society is officially awake to the impact that waste is having on our planet. While keep cups and reusable grocery bags have become common totems of progress, Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla is leading her own quiet revolution against waste, with incredible results. Under her leadership, the dynamic team at the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) aims to eliminate the concept of ‘waste’ through bold new Microfactory TM recycling capabilities.
Professor Sahajwalla, will explain how an unwanted shirt, coffee grounds and other common waste items can be transformed into sustainable building materials. Meanwhile, her process for developing ‘green steel’ has diverted millions of old tyres from landfills. Through exploring this ground-breaking work, Professor Sahajwalla’s presentation will unpack how such initiatives are crucial to help create a circular economy where materials are kept in use for as long as possible, to create a more sustainable society.
About the Speaker:
Professor Veena Sahajwalla is revolutionising recycling science to enable global industries to safely utilise toxic and complex wastes as low cost alternatives to virgin raw materials and fossil fuels. As Founding Director of UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology, Veena and her team are working closely with industry partners to deliver the new science, processes and technologies that will drive the redirection of many of the world’s most challenging waste streams away from landfills and back into production; simultaneously reducing costs to alleviating pressures on the environment. She is reimagining the global supply chain by demonstrating the viability of ‘mining’ our overburdened landfills to harness the wealth of useful elements like carbon, hydrogen and materials like silica, titania and metals embedded in our waste.
While already well-known and highly respected in her academic field, Veena became one of Australia’s best-known scientists and inventors through her regular appearances as a judge on the long-running ABC TV series The New Inventors.