ATSE engineers examine ‘waste as resource’

For the inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) is investigating how technology can best address Australia’s waste ‘crisis.’

ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said the academy is bringing expertise from industry, universities and the public sector together to build tools to turn waste into income streams.

“Australia generates around 67 million tonnes of waste per year – but with the rapid evolution of technology and sustainable engineering practices, we can and should be able to turn this into a major resource,” she said.

“This inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, the ATSE is leading a critical and timely major national initiative to pave the way for the digital revolution to supercharge Australia’s new circular economy.”

According to Ms Walker, by using technology and systems approaches that already exist, 10 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of repurposed waste can be created.

“Imagine how we could build on this growth as we start to create products designed for multiple iterations, create smart waste management systems, and invent advanced recovery technology,” she said.

Waste is one of three major investigation areas for ATSE’s Strategy Plan 2017-2020, which identifies key priorities to help Australia meet the challenges, and seize the opportunities, form global technology advances to 2030.

The investigation, supported by the Australian Research Council, will provide a blueprint for government, business and academic investment in technology and research to support waste management planning.

“We’re looking at how Australia can prepare the infrastructure and skills, as well as the social, policy and regulatory frameworks needed to move as close to a zero-waste economy as it’s possible to be,” Ms Walker said.

“As we celebrate World Engineering Day, we’re proud that this work supports a range of Sustainable Development Goals including responsible consumption, sustainable communities, innovation and infrastructure, and decent options for employment and economic growth.”