Education Live - with queen of waste

UNSW SMaRT Centre Director, Professor Veena has collaborated with the NSW Department of Education and the Australian Academy of Science to deliver an educational video for children to help with COVID related home schooling.

The collaboration is part of the Department's 'Learning from home' initiative that has been underway due to COVID, and the Academy will also use the video as part of its children's education resources via its Primary Connections channels for primary aged kids and Science by Doing channels for secondary school aged students.

You can view the video from (first option) The Department's Facebook site post, or from (further below) a window from SMaRT's YouTube page.


Welcome to EducationLive. I'm Veena Sahajwalla and I'm I'm a professor at the University of New South Wales and I'm going to tell you a little bit about what I have in my home but you know what? I bet you you've got the same things in your home too. Like for example, all these beautiful cutlery, your spoons, and everything else. Guess what? That's made out of steel.

That's very useful as we know but you know what? It's still all functioning. It lasts for long long time. you might want to think about what type of steel is actually used to make a cutlery but what happens when we've actually finished using. So, like in this case, you know what? Now, I have to do something with this plastic bottle because I finished using the soap. So, what happens to that? And here's another one. Oh my gosh, I've been hanging on to this for a long time but what about Oh, another one. but I think it's still very useful. I've still got some medicines in here. So, I'm going to put that aside but you know what? This particular plastic, let me just look at the number. Oh, look, it's got number one inside the triangle here and here's another one and that's good. Number one as well. That's PET that is recyclable.

We have to make sure that we do actually recycle these kinds of useful materials and I'm going to make sure that I put them in my own little bins that I've made which actually are so much fun because what you could be doing is you can actually figure out think about a way and you could take some of the old cardboard boxes Maybe you've got some lying around. Maybe you need to figure out if there might be something that you could create them as your your own recycling centre I'll tell you a bit more about what actually happens to these. If these plastics actually do end up getting recycled which is so good for our planet. we can make these kinds of products out of those recyclable plastics but don't forget, even when a lot of these, a lot of these metal that is something if it's not being used anymore, can actually be recycled but think about how useful it can be Here's another product that's made out of steel.

So, we've got all these different things. Look, you probably have something like this, a kitchen sink for example, at home, very useful but you know what? All these materials, all these types of products should be actually recycled when they're no longer useful and that's why I want you to think about what would you do? Maybe you need to go back and have a look Whether you do have still some more products like case a water bottle that's lying around that could be recycled. You can put that in your own yellow bins and of course, be careful. Don't just go around throwing things away. Check in and see if that's actually useful. Like in this case, I know that this plastic bottle when it's empty, this medicine bottle look, it's got the triangle but in this case, it's got number two on the inside of that triangle. So, what that shows is that we could Take this bottle.

Now. This is a different kind of plastic compared to what we just put away but you know know what? This could also be recycled. So, just make sure as you're starting to look around the house, just make sure that you can actually read those numbers on your plastic and look, this is something that, oh my gosh, it's the blueberry box I had and this one's also got the triangle number one written in here. I'm so excited because I know the more II actually collect these, the more know I'm doing such a good thing for our environment but you know what? You need to actually think about what else is out there? Are we able to recycle everything or we still have some more work to do but you know what? Let's let's actually continue to look at what in fact could be recycled in our homes. Welcome to my recycling centre.

This is where I get so excited because you know what? can actually look at all kinds of things that are there in my home and I love to collect it and particularly, you know, why I love recycling because I know even when I've broken something like this hanger, of course, it broke even when I'm broken, something, you know what I'm starting to think actually, maybe this is not a waste. This is also something when it breaks down, we should be able to recycle it because now we're talking about all these different kinds of plastics. So, we've So many different plastics coming from our kitchens. for example but then, we've also got other plastics like these kinds of hangers. So, you know, I love to collect. As you can see, all these different kinds of materials but not everything of course is a plastic in some cases like, you know what? This is, this is my favorite coffee. Lots and lots of coffee bags. So, you can see all the packaging food pack and we're developing technologies.

This is where science can be so exciting because what we're doing at the Smart Center at US Wings, we're saying, okay, when you've got lots of normal plastics that I showed you before, for example, this particular one which is got number one inside this triangle. That's a PET plastic that can be put into your yellow bins. So, that's great but what about in some cases where you've got food packaging? Well, you know what? Maybe it's not just a plastic by itself. Maybe there's something shiny on the inside. I want you to think about that because what we do with that because these are exactly the kinds of challenges that we're facing because now, it's no longer just a plastic that shiny material inside is actually a metal. Do you think we've got other kinds of products where we've got multi layers? So, you know what? Look at this.

There's a piece of plastic The cover here is actually again, got a little bit of metal on the inside. So, when we're actually using this for our research at the University of New South Wales, what we have in the Smart Center. This is so exciting. We've actually got micro factory that looks at how we might be able to get to both plastic and our metal and of course in If we could now use this metal. So, in this case, let me give you a little secret. It's actually made out of aluminum. What if we could actually take some of this fantastic aluminum and we could actually make new aluminum out of it? Wouldn't that be so cool? But this is where of course, science plays such an important role just because these two things are attached together. It was a very useful useful packaging of course because we needed it to be attached together. This way, it kept the contents inside. very safe but once you're done with it, guess what? We could actually be taking that cover and producing some fantastic aluminum out of it and that's what we're doing and we call that micro factor is green aluminum. We're excited because we can take all these different kinds of packaging whether it's a or in this case, it's a packaging for contact lenses. Isn't that exciting? Such a useful product like a contact lenses and we now know that we need to create these kinds of ways in which our packaging can be useful but what do we do then once once it's actually done, it's job. It's not a waste anymore. It can actually be used to make aluminum again and you know what? brings me to this fabulous aluminum product.

This aluminum actually, if you go have a look at some of these products has got a and this LU look, in another case, we've got to get ALU on this one. What is that is basically telling you is that it's actually made out of aluminum. This is exciting now because what it's starting to show is whether we've Alas or whether we've got metals. They're all very useful materials because just go and have a look at the cans for example that you might find in your own home and what you might actually find in some cases, it will actually tell you that it's made out of aluminum or it's got a certain number of a particular type of plastic inside. So, what I want you to do is have a look around be safe, Make sure you talk to your your family members. and ask whether they know whether can actually recycle these types of materials. You know, you can test them out. See how much they know but you know what you could then do? Do your homework when you actually go and find these numbers on different kinds of products. Go back, do a little bit of research, see what these numbers are telling you about this product. and that's exciting because you know what? I actually even found that my little yogurt tub has got plastic in it but I want you to go and find out and figure it out as to what actually these plastics are So, you can see whether it's a water bottles or whether it's a packaging or indeed a yoga tub. These are different kinds of plastics and then when we come to our metals, I told you aluminum but you know what?

There's another kind of metal that you might have heard of and you recall, I just told you about all the fabulous cutlery and that that cutlery is something that is so useful because it's of course made out of metal and that metal can be recycled many many times. Now, you look at this particular container, This is also got metal in it. If you closely What you will find is it actually does say on that triangle, recyclable steel. So, there you go. Again, we've come up with all these fabulous products in our homes and this is of course, just an insect spray but you can see whether it is a cutlery or whether it is in fact, a spray cans. All these fabulous materials that are there so useful in our everyday lives but we have to know that we have to find a way to recycle them but what if it comes to some of the more complicated things Now, imagine, you know, when my old printer stopped working, and I was really disappointed because there was nothing I could do about it at that time because I'm thinking, wait a minute, how could I actually recycle this You know, what we ended up doing?

I took this to my own micro factory at the University of New South Wales and in my micro factory, we converted that plastic into these plastic filaments plastic filaments are now made. Get this from a printer. and that printer converting into plastic filament. This plastic filament can then be used in a three d printer to print three dimensional objects. So, we have actually shown that even an old printer that doesn't work anymore can be not only recycled but reformed into filaments and that can then be used by three d printing to make completely new objects. That is so exciting because what it goes to show is that when people say hmm, that can't be recycled, You know, you may want to challenge that and you may want to ask but wait a minute, what if we could develop new science and what if we could actually start to think about different ways and we could in which we could manufacture and make all these exciting new products. This is I love about recycling and reforming and manufacturing and making things.

I love it because absolutely, this is what science and technology is all about is to take all these complicated products and find new solutions. new exciting solutions that are going to be so good for our planet. and and you know what You probably might have seen people changing phones around You know what happens to an old phone? Very complicated. When our old phones actually don't work anymore, doesn't mean that the parts in it are no longer useful Actually, this is the latest research we're doing. Guess what? We're looking at where batteries for example, inside the phone and it's so exciting because you know what? We could be making so many different kinds of innovative products and we could be looking at how we recycle all these different beautiful components that even are there in our old phones.

So, absolutely no limits but here's the most exciting thing that we've been developing. our micro factory recently, I've told you about metals I've told you about plastics I've told you about all these incredibly amazing things in our everyday lives in our homes but you know what? Think about what I've got here, right in front of me. I've got all Beautiful green ceramics. These green ceramics have actually got some amazing materials that you probably have lots of in your home. I want you to go back and do a bit of research and figure out what is in these green ceramics because we've recycled it.

We've reformed it from waste to produce these beautiful green ceramics. So, recycle and manufacturing. It's so exciting because there are so many possibilities and I love the fact that science actually can show us so many new solutions that are so good for our planet and that's why I love recycling.

Thank you so much for joining us on EducationLIVE