Read the latest news from the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology
The SMaRT Centre has developed a Green Ceramics MICROfactorieTM at UNSW to not only conduct ongoing research and development on its ceramics technology and capability, but to advance its collaboration with industry and the community as part of its continuing work.
The UNSW Green Ceramics MICROfactorieTM has developed ceramics that have been used in numerous industrial and community settings, and commercial and community MICROfactories are now either established or are being established by independent operators, some of which are highlighted below. The ceramics are used as kitchen benches, table tops, floor tiles, furnishings and for other applications.
Highlights and applications for this 'waste to product' technology are found in the expandable links below, and in this 2021 ABC Australian Story show.
SMaRT uses a variety of waste materials to produce a range of 'green' materials and products for the built environment, and the ceramics products are mainly made from types of waste glass and textiles that are traditionally not subject to recycling. This is due to issues such as contamination and material complexity.
Other waste streams that can be used to create these ceramic, include waste wood and plastics. Essentially, these green ceramics are a new generation of high performance, non-toxic, engineered bio-composites, for use in buildings, as furniture and for various architectural and decorative applications.
In August 2021, The UNSW SMaRT Centre and Shoalhaven City Council were awarded government grant funding of $500,000 to enter into a partnership to establish a Green Ceramics MICROfactorieTM at West Nowra.
The grant funding will see a processing facility housed at Council's West Nowra Recycling and Waste Depot. Waste materials such as plastic, glass and textiles and mattresses will be processed to produce a range of “green ceramics”. Additionally sorted and cleaned waste plastics will be processed into pellets or 3D printing filament.
Council will commence the construction of the Green ceramics MICROfactorieTM in early 2022 and anticipates the new facility to be completed by late 2022.
Image: The glass pictured came from the remnants of broken and dirty glass from the materials recovery facility. This material is generally considered too dirty for recyclers. However, Council has developed a washing and crushing and sizing plant that can recycle it into glass sand.
This project is funded by the Australian Government's Recycling Modernisation Fund and the NSW Government's Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.
In March 2021, the UNSW SMaRT Centre and industry partner Mirvac have revealed an industry-first apartment, made using waste materials, that has the potential to revolutionise home construction and at the same time transform household waste into a valuable resource.
The “green ceramics”, used for the first time as a construction material, are the result of a collaboration that began in 2019 between Mirvac and the SMaRT Centre.
The project scope at Pavilions was to expand the use of green ceramics to use them for the first time as a construction material in a residential setting with multiple applications.
Products developed and installed at the display apartment include the floor tiles, tiles for the kitchen splash back and island bench walls, ceramics used as light pendants and for a lamp stand, as well as for two ornamental feature walls and a large ceramic for a beautiful dining table.
And below is a Nine Today Show story.
As part of its Marrickville residential development, Marrick & Co, the first One Planet Living (OPL) community in NSW, Mirvac sought to highlight the benefits of using recycled waste in the home environment. Having succeeded in diverting 95 per cent of waste from landfill in the construction of Marrick & Co, just short of the zero waste target in its “This Changes Everything” sustainability strategy, Mirvac wished to turn the spotlight on one of the OPL principles relating to materials by transforming waste products into beautiful and useable furnishings for the home.
Mirvac introduced Australian designer Emma Elizabeth and Coco Republic, to the SMaRT Centre, and together the team produced a series of furniture including a dining table, side tables, and artworks, made from waste plastic, glass, corflute and textiles sourced from local supply chains. The textiles include a designer dress donated by Emma Elizabeth, and the waste Corflute banners came from promotional posters on campus at UNSW that would have gone to landfill. The products formed the centrepiece of a Mirvac-hosted media event to launch the development and display apartment.
The first ever library and community space in Hunters Hill - The YARN - was officially opened on 23 October 2020) and features UNSW SMaRT Centre green ceramics within the new premises.
Hunter’s Hill Council, in partnership with Lane Cove Council, is also offering waste and sustainability education at The YARN in a 'circular economy pilot project' in collaboration with the SMaRT Centre.
Supported by local sporting groups and schools, the Council collected old uniforms and the SMaRT Centre used these at its Green Ceramics MICROfactorieTM to reform them into ceramic tiles that were fitted to an island bench in The YARN.
Hunters Hill Mayor Ross Williams said The YARN was a place of outstanding innovation for the whole community to enjoy.
“Our area has a very long and proud history of engaging with our community and I think this is a classic example of us moving forward with our community,” he said.
SMaRT@UNSW Director, Professor Veena Sahajwalla said The YARN showed what could be done with waste resources.
“How we can actually use waste materials in a community space like this shows to local community members what can be done with waste that usually ends up in landfill,” she said.
SMaRT is working further with the councils on the pilot education program for The YARN.
Read this story published by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald about the project.
In a unique collaboration, SMaRT Centre Green Ceramic tiles been made from waste coffee cups have been used to help build new rubbish bins in the city of Canberra.
Partnering with Spark Furniture of South Australia and the ACT Government's City Renewal Authority, old coffee cups help create a new bin as part of the Canerra City renewal initiative.
During part of the COVID-19 lockdown, the collaboration collected single use coffee cups that were transformed into Green Ceramic tiles that form the outer skin of Spark's newly designed bin enclosure.
This project was made possible with a grant from City Renewal Authority
This is yet another initiative involving SMaRT's innovative technologies to reform waste into value added products that showcases the endless possibilities that can be created by treating waste as a renewable resource.
It shows we can now find a second life for items destined to landfill, including items not often recylced, such as clothing, coloured glass and car windows.
See this post on LinkedIn by Spark Furniture.
Read more about the launch of the Green Ceramics and Plastics MICROfactoriesTM in 2019 by Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
The below video gives an overview of our Green Ceramics and MICROfactorieTM capability.