Joint media release: Illawarra Microfactorie to turn waste glass and old mattresses into kitchen counters

1 November 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Senator Jim Molan AO DSC, Senator for NSW


Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley and Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan today visited the West Nowra Waste and Recycling Depot and met with staff from the Shoalhaven City Council to discuss the progress of its $1 million Microfactorie, supported through the national Recycling Modernisation Fund.

Minister Ley said the Morrison Government’s $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund is driving a billion dollar transformation of the waste and recycling through innovative projects like Microfactories.

“The Microfactorie will be the first local government facility of its kind in Australia to recycle waste like mattresses and glass into green ceramics in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra,” Minister Ley said.

“The green ceramics produced here will be used as kitchen benches, tabletops, tiles, furnishings and other applications in Council construction projects around the region.

“Shoalhaven City Council has bolstered its reputation as an early adopter of innovative and scalable waste solutions in its decision to partner with the University of NSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT Centre). 

“This innovative project will use science-based waste solutions to manage local waste and the learnings from the Microfactorie will be shared with other local councils around Australia through the Government’s National Environmental Science Program’s Waste Hub.”

Senator for New South Wales Jim Molan said Shoalhaven City Council will also re-manufacture 42 tonnes of plastics into products like filament for 3D printing purposes and keep 968 tonnes of glass and waste textiles like mattresses out of landfill every year.

“This innovative project is not just good for the environment, it will be good for local jobs, and it will be good for the local economy,” Senator Molan said.

Minister Ley and Senator Molan were joined by Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology at UNSW which developed the Microfactorie technology.

“Recovering materials from waste has a big role to play as we move towards a sustainable future and reducing our carbon footprint,” Professor Sahajwalla said.

“Many of the materials needed are finite in supply, so using microrecycling-based techniques pioneered at SMaRT, like our patented Green Steel and MICROfactorie technologies, to reform waste into value-added materials means we can also accelerate the ‘advancing’ of our sovereign manufacturing capability.

Construction will commence in early 2022.