Society Fellow, Veena Sahajwalla, named as 2022 NSW Australian of the Year 2022

Professor Veena SahajwallaSociety Fellow and UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla FRSN FAA FTSE was named as the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year at a ceremony held at Luna Park, Sydney on the evening of 15 November 2021. Professor Sahajwalla is a distinguished waste research engineer who is the founding director of the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT), a former Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow, and the leader of a new ARC Microrecycling Research Hub.

Professor Sahajwalla is recognised as the inventor of “green steel” manufacturing – an environmentally-friendly process for using recycled rubber tyres in steel, for which she received the Eureka Prize for Scientific Research in 2005 and the Environmental Technology Award from the Association of Iron and Steel Technology in the United States in 2006. Since then she has launched Australia’s first e-waste micro-factory in 2012 and a plastics recycling micro-factory a year later. Most recently, she has turned her attention to the development of “green ceramics”, fabricated from recycled glass and second-hand clothes, that have a stylish, designer appearance and which are being used in flooring, walling, and furniture applications.

Professor Sahajwalla’s life’s work in the recycling of waste, which is now revolutionising manufacturing, was the subject of an ABC TV Australian Story documentary earlier this year — a story that is referenced in a February 2021 RSNSW news article that links to the Australian Story documentary and various other resources on recycling. Earlier this month (November 2021), during the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, she authored a Sydney Morning Herald opinion piece, “There’s something easy we can all do to protect the earth”, urging the world to recover critical and valuable materials from waste in order to ease the pressure on key materials, sourced from mining but in finite supply and of increasing cost, that are required in the increasing electrification of our world from renewable energy sources.

The Royal Society of NSW extends its warmest congratulations to Veena Sahajwalla, a true pioneer in this vital area of research and development, on the rare distinction of being named as the NSW Australian of the Year.

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