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  • STEAM Team

Technology Innovation and Paradigm Shift in R&D

To accelerate the transition to a circular economy, especially to drive business competitiveness, developing innovative technologies through public-private partnerships has proven effective. Empowering researchers with the sense of Climate Crisis Urgency to accelerate the pace of development is a paradigm shift for the R&D community. At CELP Summit 2021, we created a session that focuses on technology-enabled business innovation and opportunities, exemplified by case studies from Hong Kong and Sydney.

Edwin KEH, CEO of Hong Kong Research Institute of Textile and Apparel (HKRITA), shared a unique success story of its accelerated development of the Garment to Garment innovative recycling solution through the PPP model. Its key innovations include a resource-efficient & low-cost hydrothermal materials separation system and an automated, intelligent, and chemical-free mechanical recycling system that processes used garments into high-value raw materials for new clothes. This also enables a new business model for scaling up garments recycling. What's amazing in this case study is that researchers are willing to take risks in the R&D process, work hand-in-hand with industry experts who guide scalability, launched a beta version, progressively improve the final production/solution. Detail of this case study has been elaborated in the textbook "An Introduction to Circular Economy": New Paradigm for R&D and Business Model of Textile Circularity.

Veena Sahajwalla, the director of Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Center of UNSW, presented its center's innovative recycling technology called MICROfactoriesTM in producing "Green Ceramics" for high-end real estate properties in partnership with Mirvac ( an Australia’s leading real estate group). They discovered that a blend of glass and textile waste at an optimized temperature within a furnace results in ceramic materials molded into tiles. The blending of shredded waste tires and plastics with metallurgical coke in the steel production process results in more resource-efficient steel production (coke consumption reduction and energy saving). This joint development in partnership with Arrium (a major Australian mining and materials company) has diverted over 2 million waste tires from landfills.

Courtesy of Veena Sahajwalla

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