Leading from the front in tackling the growing mountains of e-waste, an IIT-trained Indo-Australian scientist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) helped launch the world's first micro factory that can transform electronic waste (e-waste) like smart phones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use.
IIT-Kanpur alumna leads in tackling e-waste hazard in Australia
Ms Veena Sahajwalla, a materials scientist at UNSW and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the Sydney-based varsity, said the e-waste micro factory is the first of a series under development and in testing at UNSW.
These micro factories can also turn many types of consumer waste such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products.
Using technology developed after extensive scientific research at the SMaRT Centre, the e-waste micro factory has the potential to reduce the rapidly growing problem of vast amounts of electronic waste that cause environmental harm and go into landfills.
According to Ms Sahajwalla, micro factories present a solution to burning and burying of waste items that contain materials that can be transformed into value-added substances and products to meet existing and new industry and consumer demands.
The micro factories can use e-waste like computer circuit boards to make valuable metal alloys such as copper and tin, while glass and plastic from e-devices can be converted into micro materials used in industrial grade ceramics and plastic filaments for 3D printing.
'Our e-waste - and another under development for other consumer waste types – offer a cost effective solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges of our age, while delivering new job opportunities to our cities but importantly to our rural and regional areas, too,' the Mumbai-born Sahajwalla, who did her B Tech in Metallurgical engineering from IIT Kanpur in 1986, said.