Big picture: R&D in recycling and transformation pathways
At the SMaRT Centre we are working on green manufacturing in collaboration with industry, using waste and end‐of‐life products as raw materials and rethinking the way we have traditionally done manufacturing which is about creating new resources from waste. It is both fundamental and applied research that has created the foundations of where we are today. With the ability to produce ferrous alloys from auto waste and copper-based alloys from e-waste, the vision of things being mined traditionally – raw materials sent long distances, one large processing plant used to transform it – is no longer how we see Australia’s manufacturing future. Not only are natural resources being depleted at an unsustainable pace, industries are beginning to recognise the cost-effectiveness of reusing materials and the importance of high value-add, small, agile and localised processing facilities.
Silicon from silica in glass, or copper from e-waste, are extremely valuable so we need to look past the fact that initially they present as waste. This is where the scientific discovery and innovation comes in. It’s looking for the beauty within. The future manufacturing scientists and engineers will be creating high-value materials by discovering novel green manufacturing solutions. We see a huge opportunity for green manufacturing in micro-factories across regional Australia and new jobs for regional communities that offer economic opportunities in tomorrow’s industries.
We believe these new industries can happen on a small scale quite effectively, based on new scientific discoveries and innovations that are good for the environment and sustainable on every level. This approach offers huge economic benefits and a brand new manufacturing sector built around transforming waste into resources.