Microrecycling legend Veena Sahajwalla named NSW Australian of the Year

By Lucy Jones  November 16th, 2021

Go Veena!


Scientist, engineer, inventor and long-time Planet Ark friend and ambassador, Professor Veena Sahajwalla, has just been named NSW Australian of the Year.

The announcement was made during a ceremony at Sydney's Luna Park on Monday and recognises Veena's pioneering research in the waste and recycling sector.

Veena is the founding Director of the University of New South Wales' Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology. Through her research, Veena is recovering and reforming 'waste' materials into new products. Her long list of achievements includes:

  • Inventing a 'green steel' technology that replaces some of the coke used in the steelmaking process with defunct tyres.

  • Developing a 'material microsurgery' technique to extract valuable materials from end-of-life electronics.

  • Developing and launching recycling 'MICROfactories' capable of recovering valuable materials from complex products, including the world's first e-waste recycling microfactory which launched in 2018.

"It's about bringing recycling into that 21st century thinking, if we could imagine a future where everything is being reformed," Veena explained in an interview with Planet Ark last year.

Veena was recognised alongside:

  • Abla Kadous, president of the Islamic Women’s Welfare Association who received the NSW Senior Australian of the Year award.

  • Dr Daniel Nour from Royal North Shore Hospital and founder of the Street Side Medics service and who was named NSW Young Australian of the Year.

  • And Shanna Whan, founder and chief executive of charity Sober in the Country who won the title of NSW Local Hero. 

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said that the recipients, "embody the Australian spirit and, despite life's challenges, they have led the way in founding social, environmental and life-saving initiatives".

We couldn't agree more. Keep up the amazing work Veena and co.!


Lucy Jones

Lucy started her career working as a writer and editor in print and digital publishing. She went on to create content for Australia's leading sustainable fashion platform while completing her Master of Cultural Studies. Lucy spends her downtime at the beach, crocheting and hanging out with her cat Larry. She believes words can change the world and is stoked to help Planet Ark spread the message of positive environmental change.

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