24-25 Jul 2024

Recycling innovation taken to new level with $18 million collaborative hub

Jul 27, 2020

Set to focus on not only reducing landfill waste but also reshaping reclaimed waste into new materials, the new Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Research Hub (TREMS) has been created to transform the construction and manufacturing sectors.

With a whopping $18 million investment into the new research hub, the collaboration involves the best of the waste and recycling industry, including leading scientists, researchers and experts of the industrial sector. Those involved hail from across nine Australian universities, as well as 36 partners of state and international acclaim, with the research hub being led by RMIT University.

Expertise from a range of disciplines within the world of waste and recycling will be drawn from, such as civil, chemical and materials engineering, artificial intelligence, environmental procurements and policies and standards, just to name a few.

The time for fresh solutions

“At RMIT, we work closely with industry and other partners to tackle complex environmental, economic and social issues”, says the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation and vice-president Professor Calum Drummond.

Drummond emphasised the need to reclaim Australia’s waste resources, noting this as one of the hubs’ main missions, also aiming to position the country as an industry leader in research and working towards a circular economy.

“We are proud to be leading such a globally significant research hub that will help with transformation towards a circular economy and contribute to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals”, he continued.

Education Minister Dan Tehan echoed Drummond’s statements with his own, paying attention to the application of the research undertaken at the hub in the ‘real world’.

“Our Government is investing in research that will foster strategic partnerships between university-based researchers and industry organisations, to find practical solutions to challenges facing the Australian industry” says Tehan.

“Our investigations will include changing behaviours, smart designs to minimise waste, optimum processing of waste and converting waste to energy, developing novel materials using recycling and upcycling technologies, and metrics and tools to encourage uptake of new materials and solutions” says TREMS research hub lead, RMIT Professor Sujeeva Setunge.

Setunge highlighted the focus of the multi-sector research collaboration would pull focus onto holistic solutions and co-directed with stakeholders, directly aimed to address the current waste crisis.

“There is currently a material shortage for Australia’s $14 billion heavy construction industry, so this research to reclaim waste and transform it into new materials will deliver benefits both economically and environmentally” she said.

Acknowledging the existing long-term collaborations with the Cities of Brimbank, Kingston and Hobsons Bay, plus the Municipal Association of Victoria, Professor Setunge says she looks forward to working alongside local, national and international partners. Setunge will also be partnering closely with deputy director of the TREMS hub, University of Melbourne Professor Priyan Mendis.

The newly developed research hub will pay attention to 10 waste streams facing challenges: textile waste, biomass, tyres, glass, paper and cardboard, construction and demolition waste, fly ash, plastics, biovhar and timber.

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