Speaking ahead of today’s inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, Australia’s top technology and engineering experts said Australia’s rubbish will be transformed into a key resource and generate new industries.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) is celebrating UNESCO’s World Engineering Day – initiated by Academy Fellow Dr Marlene Kanga – by bringing together expertise from industry, universities, and the public sector to build the keys to turning waste streams into income streams.

ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker, said Australia generates around 67 million tonnes of waste per year – but with the rapid evolution of technology and sustainable engineering practices – it can become a major resource.

She said on this inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, the Academy of Technology and Engineering is leading a critical and timely major national initiative to pave the way for the digital revolution to supercharge Australia’s new circular economy.

“With technology and systems approaches that already exist, we can create nine or 10 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of repurposed rubbish,” Walker said.

“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.”

Waste is one of three major focus areas for ATSE’s major investigation and preparation for Australia’s technology future, alongside health and transport.

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 to 2030.

“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,” 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.

“We’re also proud to be the Academy for engineers – whose work supports the safe growth and development of the essential infrastructure that underpins modern life, whether it’s energy and digital networks, waste management, water supply, or transport and freight infrastructure.”


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