Waste researcher Professor Veena Sahajwalla was voted Australian of the year 2022 in NSW.
NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet presented the award to the Australian Research Council awardee at a ceremony on Monday evening in Luna Park, Sydney.
Ms. Sahajwalla is known for pioneering the high temperature conversion of waste to produce a new generation of green materials.
She is the founding director of the UNSW Center for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology and also directs the new ARC Microrecycling Research Center and the Sustainable Communities and Waste Center for the Australian Government's new National Environmental Science Program.
In 2018, Ms. Sahajwalla opened the world's first microfactory for electronic waste.
The following year she founded a plastic microfactory, dubbed a "breakthrough in recycling technology".
Ms. Sahajwalla says it is a privilege to receive this award and to live, work and have a family in Australia.
"It means so much to me and reflects the wonderful people I had around me," she says.
“I am so excited about my work and my team at the UNSW SMaRT Center, where we pioneered the science of micro-recycling and the development of new 'waste to product' technologies.
“The promotion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and more sustainability are still very important to me.
“And since I deal with a lot of people every day, I see that these problems are creating a social and industrial upswing that we should embrace in order to help our society to jointly cope with the challenges we are facing, to our ecological level to improve social and economic well-being. "
UNSW Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Business, Nicholas Fisk, congratulates Ms. Sahajwalla.
"Professionally, Veena is internationally known as a pioneer in the field of recycling science and works with industry to lead their research to real environmental and economic benefits," he says. “Personally, it is a charismatic, visionary tour de force that underpins this well-deserved award.
“Their approach has made it possible to turn many of the world's most demanding waste streams – like e-waste, auto waste, and batteries – into value-adding materials that can be put back into manufacturing. Their unique micro-factory model enables local communities to manufacture many of the products and materials they need locally using resources that are largely derived from waste. "