World-first waste microfactory launched by Australian Laureate at UNSW—4 April 2018

The world’s first microfactory that can transform the components from electronic waste (e-waste) items such as discarded smart phones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use has been launched at The University of New South Wales (UNSW) by Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

Using technology developed following extensive scientific research at the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre), the e-waste microfactory has the potential to reduce the rapidly growing problem of vast amounts of electronic waste causing environmental harm and going into landfill.

In launching the microfactory at the SMaRT Centre laboratories, NSW Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said it was exciting to see technological innovations that could transform waste management and recycling.

SMaRT Centre Director, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, said the e-waste microfactory was the first of a series of microfactories under development and in testing at UNSW that can also turn many types of consumer waste such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products.

UNSW has developed the technology with support from the ARC and is now in partnership with a number of businesses and organisations including e-waste recycler TES, mining manufacturer Moly-Cop, and Dresden which makes spectacles.

While the SMaRT Centre is expanding its partnerships with industry, investors and local councils, the challenge is to commercialise and create incentives for industry to take up this technology—and to change behaviour—as societies and communities around the world seek to be more sustainable.

Media issued by The University of New South Wales.


Image: Gabrielle Upton, NSW Minister for the Environment and Professor Veena Sahajwalla at the launch of the world’s first e-waste microfactory.
Credit: Quentin Jones.

Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, April 4, 2018