Minister and NESP behind new MICROfactorie

Above image caption: Veena with green ceramic tiles made from waste glass and textiles.

Professor Veena today joined Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and NSW Senator Jim Molan to visit the West Nowra Waste and Recycling Depot where a new ‘waste to product’ MICROfactorie will be built.

They met with staff from the Shoalhaven City Council to discuss progress of the council's $1 million MICROfactorie being built with its partner, the UNSW SMaRT Centre, with some funds provided by the national Recycling Modernisation Fund.

And learnings from the MICROfactorie will be captured by the new National Environmental Science Program Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub, led by Veena and hosted by UNSW, to share with other councils adopting innovative methods and technologies to not only reduce waste but use it as a resource for new products and materials.

In her media releaseMinister Ley said: “The MICROfactorie will be the first local government facility of its kind in Australia to recycle waste like mattresses and glass into green ceramics in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra."

“The green ceramics produced here will be used as kitchen benches, tabletops, tiles, furnishings and other applications in Council construction projects around the region.

“Shoalhaven City Council has bolstered its reputation as an early adopter of innovative and scalable waste solutions in its decision to partner with the University of NSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre). 

“This innovative project will use science-based waste solutions to manage local waste and the learnings from the MICROfactorie will be shared with other local councils around Australia through the Government’s National Environmental Science Program’s Waste Hub.”

Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan, who posted this Facebook video, said Shoalhaven City Council will also re-manufacture 42 tonnes of plastics into products like filament for 3D printing purposes and keep 968 tonnes of glass and waste textiles like mattresses out of landfill every year.

“This innovative project is not just good for the environment, it will be good for local jobs, and it will be good for the local economy,” Senator Molan said.

Veena said: “Recovering materials from waste has a big role to play as we move towards a sustainable future and reducing our carbon footprint. Many of the materials needed are finite in supply, so using microrecycling-based techniques pioneered at SMaRT, like our patented Green Steel and MICROfactorie technologies, to reform waste into value-added materials means we can also accelerate the ‘advancing’ of our sovereign manufacturing capability."

Media story by the South Coast Register.

Announcement by Shoalhaven Council.

Veena and Min Ley at Shoalhaven
Veena with Minister Ley and others at the new Shoalhaven recycling facility that will house the new MICROfactorie

Veena added: "The Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub has a wonderful opportunity to amplify many learnings for the benefit of communities while creating environmental benefits. Waste itself can, and should, be seen as a resource with economic and social benefits if we want to truly be more sustainable.

"We want to leverage the learnings from this initiative through the new Hub, so science based solutions can be more readily applied in community settings. We will ensure key learnings, benefits, and other important factors such as waste types, volumes and overall benefits and impacts can be captured for wider knowledge sharing as councils and other organisations seek new and innovative solutions to be more sustainable and address growing waste challenges."

Construction will commence in early 2022.

Read project announcement from August 2021

Read more about our Green Ceramics initiatives

Media post from Minister Ley