Image: ARC Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellow Veena Sahajwalla. Credit: Scientia Professsor Veena Sahajwalla.
Original Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Full article issued by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, who has pioneered research into waste – turning it into a new generation of green materials and products – has been named the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year.

The founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT) at The University of New South Wales Sydney, Professor Sahajwalla is producing a new generation of green materials, products and resources made entirely, or primarily, from waste. Veena also led the 2013 ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for green manufacturing, and is currently the Director of the ARC Research Hub for Microrecycling of battery and consumer wastes.

Professor Sahajwalla's research team has developed a method to use tyres in blast furnaces to create 'green steel', a breakthrough that has led to the diversion of millions of used tyres from landfill, as reported in the ARC feature article Wheel success: researcher teams with industry to turn tyres into steel. While based at SMaRT, Professor Sahajwalla's team have worked on developing an effective process to turn old clothing and textiles into high-quality building products such as flat panels.

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Sahajwalla says that we need a change of mindset that values our materials and challenges our throw-away mentality. 

'The new Australian Research Council Microrecycling Research Hub that I am heading aims to address this need. Enabling onshore, sophisticated waste processing, recycling and reformation of waste as a resource must be central to global electrification and is integral to Australia’s prosperity.'

As part of her Georgina Sweet Australian Laureate Fellowship, Professor Sahajwalla has also has teamed with colleagues at The University of New South Wales to launch the Science 50:50—Inspiring Young Women into Science program, which aimed to inspire Australian girls and young women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology so that they can succeed in an innovation-driven future.

An inspiration to so many, whose work is now an integral part of Australia and the world's green future, the ARC extends its warmest congratulations to Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

Photo credit: 

Professor Veena Sahajwalla. Credit: Professor Veena Sahajwalla.