UNSW constructing with clothes in ‘green microfactory’

UNSW research team develops process that converts old clothing, textiles and glass into high-quality construction materials like flat panels.

The isothermal hot-compression method allows the construction materials to bond forming moisture resistant, acoustic insulating and load-bearing building materials that can achieve wood veneer or ceramic-style finishes.

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Director of UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Professor Veena Sahajwalla is leading the project and said the results from this research show there needs to be efforts in addressing unsustainable landfill problems.

“Clothing is now one of the biggest consumer waste streams, with 92 million tons estimated to be thrown out in a year,” Professor Sahajwalla said in her SMH opinion piece.

“It could be said consumers and the fashion industry have a lot to answer for, given that clothing is now one of the biggest consumer waste streams.

“The clothing and textiles industry is the second most polluting sector in the world, accounting for 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions.”

The research follows UNSW’s e-waste microfactory that launched in April 2018, another effort to create newly manufactured products from waste that would traditionally be exported as rubbish overseas.

Although over 91 per cent of Australians surveyed agree that recycling technology should be an important investment focus, Professor Sahajwalla said that commercialising green technology requires government incentives to attract industry.