Australia, Circular Economy, Latest News, News

$18 million hub to drive recycling innovation

A new Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub will focus on reducing landfill waste and transforming reclaimed waste into new materials for use in construction and other manufacturing sectors.

The research hub is an $18 million collaboration involving leading scientists, researchers and industrial experts from nine Australian universities and 36 state, industry and international partners and will be led by RMIT University.

It will draw from expertise across multiple disciplines including civil, chemical, materials and construction engineering, artificial intelligence, behavioural sciences, environmental procurements and policies and standards.

Delivering novel solutions

RMIT deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation and  vice-president professor Calum Drummond said the hub would deliver novel solutions for reclaiming Australia’s waste resources and position Australia as a leader in research contributing to a circular economy.

“At RMIT we work closely with industry and other partners to tackle complex environmental, economic and social issues,” he said.

“We are proud to be leading such a globally significant research hub that will help transformation towards a circular economy and contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

Education minister Dan Tehan said the hub will undertake research with applications in the “real world”.

“Our Government is investing in research that will foster strategic partnerships between university-based researchers and industry organisations, to find practical solutions to challenges facing Australian industry,” he said.

TREMS research hub lead, RMIT Professor Sujeeva Setunge said the multi-sector collaboration would focus on holistic solutions to address the waste crisis, co-designed in partnership with stakeholders.

“Our investigations will include changing behaviours, smart designs to minimise waste, optimum processing of waste and converting waste to energy, developing novel materials using recycling and upcycling technologies, and metrics and tools to encourage uptake of new materials and solutions,” she said.

“There is currently a material shortage for Australia’s $14 billion heavy construction industry, so this research to reclaim waste and transform it into new materials will deliver benefits both economically and environmentally.”

Partnering closely with deputy director of the TREMS Hub, University of Melbourne professor Priyan Mendis, Setunge said she is looking forward to working with local, national and international partners and acknowledged existing long-term collaborations with the Cities of Brimbank, Kingston and Hobsons Bay, as well as the Municipal Association of Victoria.

10 challenging waste streams

The new hub will focus on 10 challenging waste streams: textile waste; biomass; tyres; glass; paper and cardboard; construction and demolition waste; fly ash; plastics; biochar and timber.

Australian university partners: 

University of Melbourne, Deakin University, University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales, Western Sydney University, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland.

International university partners: 

Lulea University of Technology; University of Rhodesfield, UK; University of Texas, Arlington; Hokkaido University, Japan.

State partners: 

Brimbank City Council, Kingston City Council, Hobsons Bay City Council, Department of Treasury and Finance, Geelong Manufacturing Council, Department of Environment and Science, Sustainability Victoria, Tweed Shire Council, Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Geelong Manufacturing Council, Municipal Association of Victoria.

Industry partners: 

AGL Energy Limited; ARRB Group Ltd; ARUP PTY Limited; Ash Development Association of Australia; Australasian Circular Textile Association; Bioelektra Australia Pty Ltd; Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia; Composite Reinforcement Solutions (CRS) Pty Ltd; Downer EDI Works Pty Ltd; Future Innovative Technology; Halok Pty Ltd; Inconmat Australia; Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia QLD Division Inc; Lichenergy Pty Ltd; Macdonald Lucas Pty Ltd; Ouroborus Pty Ltd; Rocket C Pty Ltd; Sebastian Property Services Pty Ltd; Shenzhen Yuezhong Green Building Sc-Tech Development Co Ltd; Tyre Stewardship Australia Ltd; Universal Vortex Industries Pty Ltd; Wuhan Geoyuan Geotechnical Engineering Co Ltd.