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Explainer: Why is recycling important?

26 May 2017
5 ways we’re turning garbage into gold

University of Sydney researchers are working on turning waste into new innovations for the health, agriculture, transport and construction industries

1. Orange peel: a cure for cancer?

Every year around a third of food produced for human consumption is never eaten. That’s around 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is wasted. But University of Sydney research is breathing new life into these leftovers and using them to make people healthier.

From orange peel to malformed mushrooms, a lot of food waste is rich in nutrients that are vital for people’s wellbeing and can be used in our diet. Meet Professor Fariba Dehghani, one of the scientists turning these scraps into life-saving medicine.

Professor Dehghani explains how her team is using waste in a meaningful way in a video, below, produced in association with the Sydney Morning Herald.

2. Seabed delicacy: a cold sore treatment?

Did you know the blue blood of abalone could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus?

A team of chemical engineers and virologists at the University of Sydney found that the sea snail’s anti-viral properties could block the herpes virus’s entry into cells.

3. Turning algae into renewable jet fuel

A native freshwater algae grown in northern Australia can be used to create a high-quality, renewable jet fuel. A multi-disciplinary team including researchers from the University of Sydney, James Cook University and Israel’s Ben Gurion University has developed a proof-of-concept process to create high quality renewable biofuel from the macroalgae, Oedogonium, ready for blending with regular gasoline, jet fuel and diesel.

4. Pee on the pods

Urine could be successfully recycled to fertilise crops, according to University of Sydney researchers. A team from the School of Civil Engineering has examined the effectiveness of reusing nutrients from human waste and say there is growing evidence that the use of human urine in agriculture is completely viable.

Stock image of waste pile.

5. A concrete idea for reusing industrial waste

The University’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is investigating new technologies for the sustainable processing of industrial waste and by-products. One example of this could see ‘fly ash’ – a by-product of coal combustion –used as a supplement in concrete mix and its manufacture.

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