UNSW green steel inventor named NSW Australian of the Year


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

University of New South Wales materials scientist Professor Veena Sahajwalla has been named the New South Wales Australian of the Year in recognition of her innovative recycling and green manufacturing work. She is best known for her invention of Polymer Injection Technology, or ‘Green Steel’.

The UNSW Scientia Professor founded the university’s Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre in 2008, going on to pioneer the transformation of waste to new green materials and products.

These include green ceramics made from recycled glass and textiles, 3D printing filaments from plastics salvaged from ewaste, and acoustic panels made from coffee grounds.

UNSW Scientia Professor and SMaRT Centre director Veena Sahajwalla

“I couldn’t believe I was nominated, let alone win the title of the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year. It is such a privilege to receive this award, and to live, work and have a family in Australia,” Professor Sahajwalla said.

“This means so much to me and is a reflection on the wonderful people I’ve had around me. I am so passionate about my work and team at the UNSW SMaRT Centre, where we have been pioneering the science of microrecycling and developing new ‘waste to product’ technologies.”

Professor Sahajwalla and the SMaRT centre are finalists in the research translation category of the 2021 InnovationAus Awards.

The NSW Australian of the Year winners were announced at a ceremony on Monday night.

Islamic Women’s Welfare Association president Abla Kadous was awarded New South Wales Senior Australian of the Year and Founder of Street Side Medics, Dr Daniel Nour won New South Wales Young Australian of the Year, while Sober in the Country chief executive Shanna Whan was named New South Wales Local Hero.

State Premier Dominic Perrottet congratulated the winners.

“Each of the NSW recipients have been nominated due to their impact and making real life differences to the community in a range of fields. From instrumental roles in science and engineering, establishing not-for-profit welfare services for people in need, healthcare for the vulnerable and creating lifesaving campaigns and charities – they have all demonstrated an outstanding spirit of service to our nation.” Mr Perrottet said.

The four recipients will join other state and territory Australian of the year winners for the national awards ceremony in Canberra on 25 January 2022.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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