The University of Western Australia has been awarded a $1.03 million grant to help incubate community-based waste recycling businesses in Sri Lanka.
The grant was awarded under the Government Partnerships for Development (GPFD) program run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
The project's director, Professor Caroline Baillie, said UWA would use the funds to partner with universities in Sri Lanka to develop capacity-building educational programs, which will serve the needs of students and local community groups that are organised around waste recycling.
Professor Baillie is the Chair of Engineering Education at UWA and a professor within the School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering. She is particularly interested in finding ways to use engineering to help solve social and environmental problems.
As part of the three-year project, UWA will partner with three universities in Sri Lanka - the University of Moratuwa, the University of Jaffna and the University of Sri Jayewardenepura - and several local community groups.
"Solid waste is a serious social, environmental, health and political concern in urban areas of Sri Lanka," Professor Baillie said.
"The idea behind the project is to look at ways of recycling waste to address these issues whilst co-creating opportunities for local communities to develop economic autonomy."
The coordinator of the project on the ground in Sri Lanka is DFAT Australian Awards Leadership scholar Randika Jayasinghe, who conducted the initial feasibility study as part of her PhD with Professor Baillie.
One of the project's key aims will be create a low-cost waste plastic composite processing and resource facility at the University of Moratuwa and a satellite facility at the University of Jaffna.
"We will be capacity building with these three universities to help set up small ‘upcycling' facilities," Professor Baillie said.
"We will then provide a ‘train the trainers' course for staff to create their own educational programs for students and communities - ultimately assisting participants to learn how to turn waste into useful domestic and building products that can be sold to enhance their own income."
The project will be implemented with the help of Waste For Life (www.wasteforlife.org), a not-for-profit organisation founded by Professor Baillie and Eric Feinblatt in 2006 that is already operating similar projects in Argentina and Lesotho.
Professor Caroline Baillie (UWA School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering) (+61 8) 6488 3137
Randika Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka) (+94) 714 234 951
David Stacey (UWA Media) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716