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Sustainable Futures Festival announces guest speaker

The Sustainable Futures Festival is excited to announce our special guest speaker, the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year – Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, ‘Eco Alchemist’, is one of the world’s leading innovators in the field of sustainable materials use and an international award-winning scientist and engineer.

She is passionate about mining the mountains of rubbish and waste materials produced by modern society and re-using them in industrial processes or to create new goods.

Professor Sahajwalla’s industry-integrated research program has resulted in a world-first, patented, environmentally-friendly process called Polymer Injection Technology for recycling end-of-life plastics and rubber in electric arc furnace steel making resulting in the production of so-called ‘Green Steel’.

Developed in close collaboration with One Steel (now Arrium), Polymer Injection Technology is an example of where research and industry, working together, have made a valuable contribution to enhancing the efficiency of manufacturing, whilst simultaneously diverting end-of-life materials from landfill.

As founding Director of the Sustainable Materials Research & Technology Centre at UNSW (SMaRT@UNSW), ‘Green Steel’ is part of Professor Sahajwalla’s broader ‘Green Materials’ agenda which seeks to not only divert waste from landfill, but to use it for production of high-value products and/or processes that consume fewer natural resources.

Veena has received many international and Australian honours, awards and prizes during her career, far too numerous to list here. The most recent includes the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year, 2015 Westpac 100 Women of Influence – Innovation Winner, Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow 2014 and The Howe Memorial Lecture Award, Association for Iron & Steel Technology, Pittsburgh, USA, 2013.

Veena has delivered keynote and invited addresses at some of the most prestigious research gatherings and conferences in the world and has lectured in Argentina, Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, UK and USA. She has also published more than 250 refereed papers in leading journals and conference proceedings in her field.

Veena completed her Master’s degree at the University of British Columbia and her PhD at The University of Michigan. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2007 and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 2005. In 2015 she has been selected as a Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Australia.

While already well-known and highly respected within her own sphere, Veena became one of Australia’s best-known scientists and inventors through her regular appearances as a judge on the long-running ABC TV series The New Inventors.

Read more about EcoNetwork’s Sustainable Futures Festival taking place on Sunday 11 September 2022 at St Philip’s Christian College, Salamander Bay, Port Stephens.

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