Cleantech: Where innovation, economic benefit, disruption and social change meet
The scarcity of raw materials is increasing rapidly. Population increase and changes in consumption patterns combined with the inefficient use of materials push us toward a crisis point. There are many reasons for the current drive for more sustainable industrial processes, including a desire for enhanced social value, lower-energy demand, less waste, and more effective products. To achieve stable long-term growth, something will have to change—and perhaps a new approach based on the materials themselves can help. Australian scientists have innovated micro-factories, custom-designed small-scale units set up to transform waste into valuable resources. The world’s landfills are packed with useful elements and materials like carbon, hydrogen, silica and various metals and oxides that industries usually source from virgin raw materials. The focus of conventional recycling is very limited and can process single stream waste or just recover one component of complex waste. Recent research at the SMaRT Centre has proved that the waste processing in small-scale -“Microrecycling”-, enable small operators to convert their waste to value-added materials simultaneously taking the pressure off landfills. Microfactories – that will enable businesses and communities to recover resources from waste, almost anywhere in the world.