Scientist Veena Sahajwalla is a recycling superstar with some bold new ideas about how to save waste from landfills. As Australia’s collective garbage guilt builds alongside the tonnes of plastic piling up in recycling depots, her innovative inventions may offer some exciting new solutions. Inspired walking the streets of her Mumbai neighbourhood as a child, Veena observed almost everything was reused and “nothing was wasted”.

This can-do attitude shaped her engineering career and sowed the seeds for some ground-breaking ideas, including making steel from car tires. Now she’s unveiling her latest invention, a “micro-factory” that creates building materials and tiles from dumped clothes and glass. It’s a revolutionary concept. But will it work outside the lab?