Free Press Journal

Mumbai-born scientist’s solution for city’s garbage woes



Mumbai: Mumbai-born scientist Professor Veena Sahajwalla’s technology to convert old rubber tyres to metal alloys may be the answer to the city’s landfill troubles, say experts. The Polymer Injection Technology makes use of old car tyres and plastics to provide a source of carbon to replace a significant proportion of the non-renewable coke used to make steel in electric arc furnaces.

Also called Green Steel manufacturing, it helps to convert old car tyres to useful metal alloys and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Professor Sahajwalla is Director at the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia.

Developing it was a decade-long journey, rather than a single moment. It was 2003 when Professor Sahajwalla pioneered the technology in a laboratory at UNSW. After incorporating it into commercial production, by 2016, the technology led to more than 2 million tyres in Australia being diverted from landfill and processed into a feedstock for manufacturing steel.

Recent reports of recurrent fires and health hazards posed by Mumbai’s massive landfill at Deonar have led experts at UNSW Australia to consider that Professor Sahahwalla’s technology may possibly offer a solution and can be applied to cities facing overburdened landfills around the world. Mumbai produces an estimated 10,000 metric tonnes of waste a day.

Professor Sahajwalla said, “We need to change attitudes about land filling waste. As scientists and engineers, we can create solutions that go beyond conventional thinking. We can look for smarter, cleaner ways of manufacturing that have a low impact on the environment.”