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Veena Sahajwalla: Leading the Green Revolution in Recycling

Veena Sahajwalla: Leading the Green Revolution in Recycling

ARC Laureate Professor Veena Sahajwalla is at the forefront of a recycling revolution, redefining the possibilities of sustainable materials and green manufacturing. As an internationally renowned materials scientist, engineer, and inventor, her groundbreaking work is paving the way for a more sustainable future.

Professor Sahajwalla’s innovative approach involves the high-temperature transformation of waste materials to create a new generation of ‘green materials.’ This approach has led to the development of the world’s first e-waste microfactory in 2018 and a plastics microfactory in 2019, both of which represent significant breakthroughs in recycling technology.

As the founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Professor Sahajwalla is dedicated to producing green materials and products made entirely or primarily from waste. Her work extends to leading the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for ‘green manufacturing,’ collaborating with industry to translate recycling science into real-world environmental and economic benefits.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Professor Sahajwalla was appointed the inaugural Director of the Circular Economy Innovation Network by the NSW Government in 2019. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being honored as a Centenary Hero by Engineers Australia in 2019 and being elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 2018.

One of Professor Sahajwalla’s most significant achievements is her internationally commercialized EAF ‘green’ steelmaking process, which uses waste tires as a partial replacement for coke. This breakthrough has enabled her to transform a variety of challenging waste streams, such as e-waste, automotive waste, and batteries, into valuable materials for manufacturing.

Professor Sahajwalla’s vision for the future includes the widespread adoption of microfactories, which bring waste-to-value solutions directly to communities. These small-scale facilities have the potential to decentralize manufacturing, using resources derived from waste to produce local products and materials.

Beyond her scientific achievements, Professor Sahajwalla is a familiar face on Australian television, appearing as a judge on ‘The New Inventors’ and making guest appearances on shows like ‘War on Waste’ and ‘Q&A.’ She is also actively engaged in public speaking, mentoring programs for girls in science, and media commentary.

In summary, Professor Veena Sahajwalla’s work is transforming the way we think about waste, materials, and manufacturing. Her innovative approach is not only reducing environmental impact but also creating new economic opportunities and inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers.

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