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87 – Veena Sahajwalla – high-value opportunities from MICROFactories

Circular Economy Podcast - 87 Veena Sahajwalla High-value MICROFactories

Professor Veena Sahajwalla, founder of UNSW SMaRT Centre, is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor who is revolutionising recycling science.

In 2018, Veena launched the world’s first e-waste MICROfactorieTM and in 2019 she launched her plastics and Green Ceramics MICROfactoriesTM, another breakthrough for recycling technology.

Veena unpacks the concepts of microfactories and micro-recycling, and we hear why it’s important to get clear on the constituent materials in waste flows – for example, not just textiles, but what the textile is made from.

Veena explains the importance of thinking beyond the manufacture of the recycled material, so you are designing solutions that are properly suitable for high-value end-products. Veena also describes how the projects are collaborating with industry partners, helping open up opportunities for important local jobs, skills and resilient income streams.

Podcast host Catherine Weetman is a circular economy business advisor, workshop facilitator, speaker and writer.  Her award-winning book: A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business includes lots of practical examples and tips on getting started.  Catherine founded Rethink Global in 2013, to help businesses use circular, sustainable approaches to build a better business (and a better world).

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Links we mention in the episode:

  • A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business – buy from any good bookseller, or direct from the publisher Kogan Page, which ships worldwide (free shipping to UK and US) and you can use discount code CIRCL20 to get 20% off. It’s available in paperback, ebook and Kindle. If you buy it from online sources, make sure you choose the new edition with an orange cover!
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  • SMaRT Centre website: Welcome to SMaRT@UNSW | SMaRT@UNSW
  • LinkedIn:
  • Twitter: VeenaSahajwalla

About Veena Sahajwalla

Professor Veena Sahajwalla is an internationally recognised materials scientist, engineer, and inventor revolutionising recycling science. She is renowned for pioneering the high temperature transformation of waste in the production of a new generation of ‘green materials’ at the UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre, where she is Founding Director.

Professor Veena is the inventor of polymer injection technology, known as green steel, an eco-friendly process for using recycled tyres in steel production. In 2018, Veena launched the world’s first e-waste MICROfactorieTM and in 2019 she launched her plastics and Green Ceramics MICROfactoriesTM, a recycling technology breakthrough.

Veena is the director of the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for ‘microrecycling’, a leading national research centre that works in collaboration with industry to ensure new recycling science is translated into real world environmental and economic benefits. Professor Veena has also been appointed hub leader of the national NESP Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub. In 2021, Professor Veena featured in the ABC’s Australian Story and named the 2022 NSW Australian of the Year.

Interview Transcript

Provided by AI – add ~40 secs for the finished episode

Catherine Weetman  02:01

Veena, thanks so much for taking the time to join us on the circular economy podcast, so that we can talk about the work you and your colleagues are doing on the micro factories and micro recycling concepts. And I’m really interested to know more about that. So could we start by asking if you could unpack that a bit for us? What are micro factories?

Veena Sahajwalla  02:22

Yeah, thanks, thanks for having me, Catherine. And micro factories are really all about showing that production in a decentralised way of all kinds of value added products that we need in our lives can be done in a local and regional setting where the predominant feedstock and the material is a waste resource. And micro factories are ultimately about creating value from waste. So that no matter what we have, whether it’s coming from our homes or offices, we’re not kind of detaching ourselves from the notion that well, it’s somebody else’s problem. But rather taking that responsibility so that we can indeed start to say, what does it take to build that local ecosystem? And if we have to build that local ecosystem? You know, what are the benefits of doing that? It’s pretty obvious when you stop and think about it, that micro factories actually, as we have shown in setting these up and regional communities in Australia, is that we can create local jobs. And to me that’s so important, it gets people excited about the fact that waste is not a burden on our environment. Waste is really just another material that is a resource that is waiting to be harnessed. So we can imagine that the full circularity of different kinds of materials and their transformation. And not always seeing that there’s always going to be the like for like conversion, which is what we tend to think recycling is all about luck, rather to think that if we can’t convert the same product into that like for like conversion, that’s okay. What we are really saying is that the micro level that micro recycling, is getting right down at that final level of detail. And saying, Now, I should see a product not just as a piece of textile waste, or or glass waste, but rather to see those as important materials. And what would that transformation look like if we were able to apply those concepts of micro recycling where the transformation is such that that fabric that went into into the production doesn’t come out as a fabric. In fact, waste textiles and glass get converted into our green ceramic products. So to get this we’ve got a nice soft fabric, and of course, hard glass, and of course, our micro factories and how we manufacture in our micro factories. But at the micro recycling transformation level, which is what we’re really talking about here is really to reform those materials. And by reforming it, we’re actually showing that it is possible to actually produce a whole new product, which is the most important thing is of high quality. And yes, those green ceramics are what we then using for various building applications. And that’s really what micro factories is all about. It’s about showcasing that ultimately, it’s really about those economies of purpose. And economies of purpose can be brought to life, you know, we really stop and think, What is the purpose in a given community or in a given regional town, if we want to have that ability to bring more manufacturing into those regions, bring local jobs, do our own recycling and reforming, we need to be able to actually encourage and support those local local actions. And circular economy in action is the way we will deliver impact. And that’s really what microfactory is all about.

Catherine Weetman  06:00

I think there are so many fascinating aspects to that. So just to bring it to life a bit if we could talk about that green ceramics example. Just so people get a clearer picture in their mind. So we’re using textiles and glass, found locally. So are the other textiles? Do they need to be any specific textiles? Or can you use typical textile waste, which is, you know, a mixture of natural fibres and synthetics and so on?

Veena Sahajwalla  06:36

So Catherine, I always, yeah, so I always talk about the fact that, you know, when when we talk about raw material and feedstock, you know, we have to also remember that in any manufacturing operation, that control of that input feedstock is important. And so part of what we have developed in terms of micro recycling solutions, is exactly that, that we need to understand what these different kinds of fibres are, what are the different input materials coming from, of course, textiles. And then the other part, of course, is glass. And we’re creating a highly integrated product between two materials that wouldn’t normally come together. So part of this is very much about also saying that, you know, when designing these solutions, whether fundamentals of materials science has to deliver, ultimately into a high quality product. So part of what we do with our micro recycling science is that behaviour of those materials at the micro level, and that then allows us to put them on under micro factory settings, and creating these kinds of green ceramics that then allow us to create, you know, robust, and solid products were, of course, these materials, but coming together, they actually, interestingly, give us all that high performance that we are after. So if you want to put into floor tiles, you know, what is the expected standard in terms of performance? And that’s the important question there. That, you know, we need to be able to always look at it, not from just the point of view of input, but really go back and say, What does manufacturing do to these materials, and ultimately, the product that you make? Is it fit for purpose? But because it’s no point, somebody making a feedstock, and saying, Oh, look, I’ve made these pellets to get it out there. And I’m going to hope that there is a market for it. And what we are saying is that you can’t just be in the world of recycling remanufacturing without having an appreciation for the finished product that you want to make.

Catherine Weetman  08:36

I think you’re really what I think you raise a really a really interesting point. And that was something that Colin church, from the Institute of minerals, metals, and mining, think I’ve got that right – IOM3,in the UK. He raised that and said that often with modern supply chains, those involved at the beginning, in the material development and so on, have no visibility of the kind of end uses for their product. So they’re not able to optimise the design of it. So think this whole system perspective and thinking, what product could we create that’s needed locally? That’s high value and obviously meets any performance specifications. And I guess ideally, is in some way better than the existing alternative whether it’s because that’s, you know, better from a sustainability point of view or even just just the fact that it’s it’s local, or whatever, but But you know, how can it compete, but just to come back to make sure I’m really fascinated to understand more about the process, I guess for the feedstock. So are you have I understood that you take whatever batch of textiles you get at that time, and then look to see what the particular chemical properties of that batch are once it goes through the recycling process, and use that to then determine the specification of this week’s end product. Is that how it works?

Veena Sahajwalla  10:17

Well, I mean, we do have both aspects, you know, when you think about textiles, though, the way it performs is one, it’s actually, you know, seen as a material that undergoes, of course that transformation in in, of course, the way those molecules work in that system. So there’s

Catherine Weetman  10:36

that. So we’ve got the fibres, and to make sure I understand it. So we’re, you’re not trying to get something down to a granular level are you working with, with the fibres themselves? Yeah, that’s right, that makes more so

Veena Sahajwalla  10:50

you might, you might have these kinds of fibres, materials I’m holding, holding this up, you can see that it’s about the fibres. And of course, it’s also about, you know, ultimately, the kinds of colours that come into these kinds of products come from this textile. So there is both that engineering side of it, in the way these materials work at a micro level, is how that fibre gets integrated into the whole structure, and how it all gets bonded together. Absolutely. So that’s, that’s one side of it. But then the other side of it is, you know, the aesthetics part of it. Because, of course, the love in the kinds of things we were producing is, you know, how do we create these products that represent, you know, the local colours. And of course, we produce, for example, different kinds of green ceramic tiles, all of these made from, you know, perhaps textiles that people might have from their old uniforms, for instance. And so if there is there is that emotional connectivity as well. But you’re absolutely right down at the, at the fundamental level of fibres, and each of the other sort of, you know, materials that are there in a hybrid blend. That high end, of course, without getting into those details, now performs is multifunctional. And so that’s really why what we are really trying to do is see different kinds of textiles, not just as something that puts in the colour, I mean, that’s the obvious, you know, outcome, you can see that it looks looks pretty amazing. But on the other hand, there’s also other other transformations at the micro level that these textiles undergo. And this is why of course, the way we produce it. Of course, it’s a patented process that allows us to really fine tune, which is what our research of micro recycling has shown us. And that then allows us to fine tune that input in the right blended form, to be able to have that blend, then be able to be manufactured in the form of Britain ceramic tile. So yes, there is there is a lot of fundamental science that then allows us to incorporate and create those various hybrids, which are again, fit for purpose.

Catherine Weetman  13:05

Yeah, and I guess there’s no end of interesting stories you can create, you know, for using sort of small batches of input products, you know, end of end of use textiles, and so on the uniforms example that you that you gave, it reminds me of Elvis and Kresse, who make very high quality bags, belts, wallets, and so on, out of end of life fire hose, which is, you know, laminated a really complicated product. But of course, you know that that end of life products have saved hundreds, if not 1000s of lives, and can go on for years and years and years as a belt or wallet. So how do you decide? What kind of waste materials to use? Are you? Are you led by the science of what could we transform this into? Or are you led by the, you know, what’s very problematic in the local area?

Veena Sahajwalla  14:02

I mean, it’s got to be always on both ends of that spectrum. You know, on one hand, the science is exciting. And we will be looking at scientific solutions for things like E waste for batteries. So we’re developing our micro factories, and that micro recycling science for some of the more complex waste products like our batteries, but on the other hand, of course, we know that when it comes to community needs, you know, batteries are going to be an important question moving forward, people are concerned about broadly how to recycle energy storage devices, you know, whether whether we’re talking about the little handheld systems or the larger, you know, batteries like solar batteries. I mean, in all these cases, we recognise that these material resources are indeed limited resources on the planet. So we’ve really had a lot of energy that has gone into making them in the first place. So why would you not go after the kinds of metals that they contain. But really, you know, go after it in a way that you can create clean and green processes. So that businesses that are really looking to, ultimately how recycling of batteries, for example, or erase more generally can occur. also recognise that it’s not just here’s one big solution. And that’s all it is. But recognise that there are multiple pathways to be able to get a particular element, or you know, an oxide. So if you want to get to zinc oxide, you can source that zinc, for example, from selling the batteries. And so then to be able to say, okay, aha, so if I had that zinc oxide, now I’ve got a rather expensive material that I can source from waste. And in all of these cases, again, going back to that point about, you know, what kind of quality material and product do I make? And is that going to be good enough to meet the requirements for the user who’s going to take that, and put that into into their application? So I think, to me, whether we’re talking about green ceramics, or indeed a lot of our concrete metals, know, these cases, they have to have that quality, you know, component in that thinking, you know, whether it’s around the chemistry or whether it is around the end product properties, how waste resources come together, and how they are, you know, transformed in that collective. Like we were talking about, you know, whether these are making of our green ceramics, or what do we make with old batteries in terms of, you know, metals. In all of those cases, we’ve got materials that are mixed up. And of course, it is near impossible to unpack that because these are rather complex materials. It’s not just physically crushing up glass, or shredding out plastics and saying, Okay, well, here it is shredded, or crushed glass or whatever. Now, we’re talking about even more complex materials, like all the all the mass that is present inside of batteries, and of course, that E waste. So we’ve certainly got to deal with the fact that there may well be some metallics, they may well be some plastics, and the structures of more and more complex product is the reason why of course we talk about micro recycling, you know, how do you on a circuit board start to think about producing both copper alloys and tin alloys? Because both copper and tin are present, and they’re both important. But how do you go about making that without necessarily using a smelter? Because of course, you can throw everything in a smelter. And you can say, look, I mean, you know, the big grand big smelter will look out for it. But what if we are talking about decentralised solutions, that the advantage of what we talk about in terms of some of the techniques that we have developed, those fundamental techniques allow us to isolate these different metals, so you can bring about that isolation, and ultimately, your one single input, you know, let’s say this, a circuit board can be isolated into these different metallic alloys like copper based or tin based alloys. And that’s important, because they’re not gonna be somebody who is processing e waste, but I know I can create these different kinds of alloys for various markets. And of course, both copper and tin are important. Tin, of course, as we know, is used for soldering purposes. And of course, copper is used for all kinds of electrification applications, so So you know, you need to be able to then say, Okay, well, that means I actually can have multiple pathways in a decentralised way through that one feedstock produce coal products, just want to buy a product. It’s a cool product. Yeah. And, and that’s really where some of the fundamental scientific techniques that we’ve developed around, you know, really selectively synthesising the kinds of materials that you do meet, which is why, of course, we call it micro recycling, because it is certainly not the traditional recycling of throw everything into one big factory and, and we’ll get one output from that. It’s very finely controlled, which I think also makes it really possible to control quality of the product you’re making.

Catherine Weetman  19:16

Yeah, and I’m envisaging just how complicated the input process must be. Because I’m guessing that for the vast majority of particularly if we’re talking about E waste, it’s not even evident, what materials that contains, you know, there’s no bill of materials that’s embedded, you know, people are working on that, aren’t they sort of using nano technology and labelling and so on to make it clear what’s in this what’s in this E waste? But at the moment? It’s just a guessing game, isn’t it? So trying to work out what’s in there and then how to isolate it. And then yeah, Professor Walter Stahel talks about two new industrial areas in his latest book, one of which is the era of D, which is, you know, all around de-polymerization de-lamination, you know, and then the easier stuff of de-labelling and so on, but a whole new range of industrial processes that need to be created. And as you’re doing created in a way that they can work at a micro scale, you know, the days of mass everything, as we know, involve lots of logistics and cost and energy. And being able to do things on a on a micro level seems to be a much, much better way forward. And so I know on some of these projects, you’ve partnered with local companies. And so how did that come about? And what are the benefits of that been?

Veena Sahajwalla  20:51

Yeah, look, collaboration with local companies here in Australia has been an absolute privilege for me. Because I think to me, so many businesses are committed to sustainability, and really want to play their part and, and, and go beyond the kind of traditional solutions. So I think taking it to a whole new level means they’ve got to embrace the science, and they’ve got to be a partner in both science and technology. And I think to me, that’s really where, you know, recognising that the Australian Research Council, ARC here in Australia, funds research that allows us to bring together both fundamental and applied science is important. And as part of many of these programmes, you know, we are able to bring together that partnership, where businesses and of course, ARC can fund these programmes for research, and of course, taking that then logically, with them to the commercial level, I say, it’s such an obvious thing to do. And we’re really privileged because you know, many of them who are excited about the work that we have done through to the scientific work, you know, can’t wait in many instances to set things up getting up and rolling. And so I guess, to me, that that’s really how it’s happened. In many instances, you know, they’ve they’ve really, you know, seen that collaboration as a long term partnership. And had that means it’s, it’s quite obvious that these will be the partners that will then move on, and we’ll work towards commercialization with you.

Catherine Weetman  22:28

Yeah. And so are there any, are any of the projects close to being commercialised at this point?

Veena Sahajwalla  22:36

Oh, look, absolutely both, we’ve got two big ones in the making both our green ceramics I was telling you about, and also our green steel, and our green steel project takes takes and things like waste tires with the goal that we can indeed supply hydrogen into the making of steel, and that carbon all coming from waste tires, and being able to liberate those those fundamental hydrogen molecules in situ. And to bring about those reactions in situ inside those operations means that it gives steelmaker right now an opportunity to produce green steel. So that’s been that’s been something that we’ve been super excited about, you know, that people are willing to really be very open minded and to consider the kinds of solutions that we’re developing in Australia, because it’s one thing to sell, but we need to use hydrogen and less coal and coal, but you know, where is that hydrogen going to come from? How’s it going to be deployed. So part of that, again, that journey of thinking around bringing waste resources into the supply chains, and then looking at how it’s actually delivered. In a practical manufacturing setting, a lot of those practical challenges are what we are overcoming to it to indeed manufacture green still in an AF and, of course, Sarah Green ceramic products in a micro factories, which is, you know, a small business, then SME, taking that on and, you know, running with it in in a regional town. So, I think, to me, that partnership of how we really support, innovation and ideas, you know, has to happen through collaboration. And that collaboration is something we’ve been really, really lucky that incredibly fantastic companies in Australia really are so firmly supporting the science as well as technology development and and then take it to the next level where they start to want to commercialise it. Yeah, I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s a win win outcome, I think, for the world of science and technology.

Catherine Weetman  24:52

Yeah, and I think it really is the dawn of a new industrial revolution, isn’t it with people thinking so differently about it? What they should be producing? And how, you know, what materials, what energies, what kind of shape and size of supply chain, and going going for this sort of micro scale, and thinking about resilience instead of reliance on partners that you might not be sure about. I came across a new buzzword the other day, I can’t remember where I where I picked it up, but it was it. It was friend shoring. So no offshoring and nearshoring. But making sure that wherever you’re going to, you know, whatever your supply chain relies on in terms of, you know, things that are outside your control, that those are going to be long, long term, collaborative partners, whether that’s a country or, or a supplier. Yeah, so Veena, it’s all fascinating. And I can see there are just so many, so many benefits. And I think there’s some really exciting things going on in the science and also in the, you know, thinking through how how’s this going to work, how’s it going to work when it goes beyond the gates of the University and has to stand on its own two feet. And as the microfactory and micro recycling projects have evolved? What surprised you the most?

Veena Sahajwalla  26:22

I guess what’s been really interesting is, to me, one, the passion that the team has, and the team that is both the team at the University, as well as the team act, you know, the microfactory operations. And I think it’s almost as if we’re not two separate teams, you know, it’s a seamless, integrated team. And I think, to me, that’s been really lovely to see how they all work together, and how we all get excited, you know, we come in and do some prototyping at our, you know, demonstration facility at UNSW in Sydney, and that then, is translated across into the actual, you know, microfactory operations. And I think, to me, that ability to have that translation, and to be able to translate that really quickly also comes down to as we were saying, you know, I mean, the the culture that even though we might come from different worlds, but we do share those values that we have in common. And I think to me, that’s what we need to be looking for is shared values. And I think it’s been absolutely lovely that I’ve seen businesses that have started out as, you know, waste recycling businesses, which is really where my industry partner, in qurum, Andhra was, you know, when, when he was doing recycling tires, and mattresses, and so on, you know, and collection, and all of that, but then to make that transition into becoming a manufacturer, I think, to me says a lot that it just goes to show that you don’t want, where people have got that passion and that commitment to solve these problems, people will find a way to make it happen. And through our collaboration and this partnership, I think, again, without without his commitment and passion, we could not have delivered this. So I think it works both ways that, you know, that true partnership, is what we all need to be looking towards. And I think I’m really pleased that, you know, in their partnership with Andrew, you know, we’ve got a partner who, you know, really understands and is committed and his passion towards the environment, but also recognises that, you know, this is relatively young technology, and they will be learning stuff that’ll happen along the way. And but that’s okay, you know, I mean, that’s part of the joy and the fun of learning as well. And not everything has to be and it will not go perfectly at the start. So I think to me, you know, we’ve got to give a lot of credit to our, to our industry partners, where they’re willing to, of course, you know, they’re putting so much money into, into this production, but really also respecting that, you know, this is really relatively young science of micro recycling. And, you know, we we’re already ahead of the curve in terms of what we can do. So I guess from from that perspective, I always see it as together for all of us. It’s only the beginning of the journey.

Catherine Weetman  29:30

Yeah, that’s fascinating, and that resonates with with something I was reading, I was just preparing for a talk about the circular economy and its impact on education and jobs. And there was an Alvin Toffler quote, I can’t remember the beginning of it, but it’s kind of you know about those who will succeed. And it’s, it’s those who have the ability to learn, unlearn, and then relearn. And that’s what we’re all doing now. Isn’t it is kind of unlearning some what we thought were truths about the way the world works. And, you know, and having to reframe things and take on new worldviews and different perspectives. And I think getting clear on your values and going back to those each time when something new comes up or a problem surfaces that can really help guide what to do and the way forward. So Veena, if you were to talk to somebody who’s getting interested in the circular economy and thinking about whether they could start something circular, or take their business in a more circular direction, what’s the number one tip that you’d share with them?

Veena Sahajwalla  30:41

I’d say, you know, you need to think holistically. If you’re thinking about circular economy, it can’t just be the fact that I’m going to be at kind of one end of this whole sort of thinking, you’ve got to think holistically. And you’ve got to think about what are the end markets, and how circular way of thinking and doing circular so that practical solutions can actually be deployed. So think, circular solutions, at the time, when you’re starting to think about circular economy, because solutions and how you get there, right at the very start are going to be extremely important. So that when you embark on the journey, you’re also thinking about that all of that circularity that sits not necessarily everything in your control, but rather, that collaborative and collective approach so that when we talk about those supply chains, what kind of opportunities you could be creating, not just today and tomorrow, but well and truly into the future? What are some of those materials and products and manufactured solutions that you need to think about that are going to be truly sustainable? And the world is prepared to invest in it?

Catherine Weetman  32:07

Yes, a lot. Lots to unpack there. But that Yeah. It does, you do need to really think about the long term because some of the solutions that have come up so far, have then been shown to be detrimental in other ways, you know, that I’m thinking of a lot of the recycling processes at the moment, particularly around plastics, you know, the chemicals and the energy involved, pretty much creates a bigger footprint than creating the virgin materials, which of course, is great for the fossil fuel manufacturers. And that’s why they’re so keen on it. But yeah, let’s let’s get sidetracked into that. So Veena, I’m guessing, you know, I think sounds like you’re a big fan of the circular economy in general. And maybe you have a favourite example, or even somebody that you’d recommend as a as a future guest. And, and obviously, your favourite example is probably one of your microfactory products. But I’m going to ask you to choose something else.

Veena Sahajwalla  33:11

So I’d probably say, my, my industry partner who, who I’ve mentioned, Andrew would be, you know, an example of a person who is passionate, but also, like us doesn’t want to stop. And, you know, seize many, many opportunities along the way. So, I think to me, that’s why it is a favourite example, these, these kinds of solutions and I microfactory solutions, because I think, the power that it has to create incredible impact on remote and regional communities across the world, and deliver on Win Win outcomes for our planet and for our people.

Catherine Weetman  34:29

And what’s his, what’s Andrews’s company’s called?

Veena Sahajwalla  34:33

It’s called Kandui KAND U I – Kandui.

Catherine Weetman  34:40


Veena Sahajwalla  34:40

That’s Kandui Technologies? Yeah, but look, I mean, I’m sure I’m sure he’d love to love to have a bit of a yarn with you.

Catherine Weetman  34:48

Great stuff. Well, I’ll hook up with you afterwards to get his contact details. Thank you. And Veena, if you could wave a magic wand and change one thing overnight, to help create To better world, what would that be?

Veena Sahajwalla  35:04

You know, the magic wand that I would want to kind of wave across would be that all of us, in our homes and our local, you know, councils and communities and local government agencies are working together to start with these local actions. Because if we can start doing these things, you know, in the proper way, at the local level, that can be replicated across the world. So that that magic wand really has to be about enabling local solutions to come to life. And that means those local communities, including local businesses, and local governments, can work together and and see the benefits.

Catherine Weetman  35:54

Yeah. It’s so important, isn’t it that we move the narrative away from big business being the answer to everything, which I’m realising after reading a book by Kerryn Higgs, called Collision Course, I’m realising just how intentional that’s been, it’s not just kind of happened because businesses created good solutions. You know, they’ve been orchestrated campaigns and millions of pounds of funding going into creating this myth that business knows better than government, and, and so on. And, in fact, I think it might have been Kerryn Higgs, who first sent me a video about you. So so maybe we should maybe we should link you up. So excellent. And how can people find out more and get in touch and you know, explore the work that you’re doing on the micro factories and micro recycling?

Veena Sahajwalla  36:52

Yeah, so suddenly, people can jump on our website, which is for the SMaRT Center, that’s And that’s, that’s our website, and they’ll be able to jump on the website, see these videos and things in and suddenly send us an email if they are interested in finding out more.

Catherine Weetman  37:14

Thank you. And thank you so much Veena, for taking the time to join us today, particularly because it’s at the end of your will your working day. And good luck with the next phase of the micro factories and micro recycling projects. And of course, all the other projects that you and your colleagues are working on at the SMaRT Center.

Veena Sahajwalla  37:31

Thank you so much for having me, Catherine.

Want to find out more about the circular economy?

If you’d like to learn more about the circular economy and how it could help your business, why not listen to Episode 1, or read our guide: What is the Circular Economy

To go deeper, you could buy Catherine’s book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

Please let us know what you think of the podcast – and we’d love it if you could leave us a review on iTunes, or wherever you find your podcasts.  Or send us an email

Podcast music

Thanks to Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow, otherwise known as the brilliant, inventive and generous folk duo, O’Hooley & Tidow for allowing me to use the instrumentals from the live version of Summat’s Brewin’ as music for the podcast. You can find the whole track (inspired by the Copper Family song “Oh Good Ale”) on their album, also called Summat’s Brewin’.  Or, follow them on Twitter.

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