New economies for waste

The Centre for a Waste-Free World’s New economies for waste program provides leading research into transformative solutions such as circular, sharing and distributive economies.

Communities, industry and governments are increasingly seeking new and innovative ways to improve the economic system to support sustainable resource use. This needs a systems approach incorporating the complex inter-relationships of waste, energy, water and climate change. We must shift from traditional ‘production to landfill’ linear economies to circular economies where waste is reduced, captured and repurposed.

New real-world economies

Shifting to new economies requires expertise, and we work with government and industry to create bold, new solutions.

A circular economy requires renewable and finite material resources to remain in circulation for as long as possible. Sometimes referred to as biomimicry or cradle-to-cradle design, circular approaches are holistic, whole-of-system responses that require circularity to be designed into a product.

Sharing and distributive economic models enrol human and material resources into a solutions-based approach. These can include programs that work with industry partners to:

  • identify new business models and new opportunities such as social entrepreneurship
  • create programs that support local communities to divert waste from landfill while developing new, local and regional opportunities.

Our projects

Our research program team oversees the following projects.

Robotics saves discarded clothes from landfill

QUT researchers are saving millions of garments from landfill by using robotics to help sort and disassemble trims, labels, buttons and stitches from discarded clothing.

We're working with Lendlease to create Australia's first circular food economy at Yarrabilba, a master planned community south of Brisbane, as part of a Food Agility CRC project.

QUT is working with industry partner Blocktexx to divert textile waste into new materials using groundbreaking technology that separates polyester from natural fibres.

Program team

Professor Leonie Barner

Macromolecular and materials chemistry

Centre Director

Associate Professor Alice Payne

Fashion design practice and management

Program Leader

Associate Professor Carol Richards

Business and management

Program Leader

Dr Manuela Taboada

Design practice and management, communication and media studies, urban and regional planning

Dr Judith Herbst

Business and management

Dr Wendy Miller

Built environment and design, electrical and electronic engineering, physical sciences

Dr Rui Torres de Oliveira

Business and management

Dr Glenda Caldwell

Architecture, design practice and management

Dr Marianella Chamorro-Koc

Design practice and management

Associate Professor Debra Cushing

Architecture, urban and regional planning

Professor Marcus Foth

Design practice and management, information systems, communication and media studies

Associate Professor Felipe Gonzalez

Aerospace engineering, electrical and electronic engineering

Associate Professor Deanna Grant-Smith

Business and management, human geography, policy and administration

Ms Kathleen Horton

Fashion, creative arts and writing

Dr Bree Hurst

Business and management, marketing

Dr Nick Kelly

Interaction design, engineering design

Dr Tiziana Ferrero-Regis

Fashion, cultural studies, design practice and management, film, television and digital media

Professor Evonne Miller

Social change, design practice and management, psychology, sociology

Dr Kathleen Mullen

Analytical chemistry, macromolecular and materials chemistry, physical chemistry

Dr Venkat Venkatachalam

Advertising, marketing, public relations, information systems

Dr Geraldine Wunsch

Behaviours and decisions in agriculture and natural resources

Ms Natalie Haskell

Industrial design, Industry 4.0, additive manufacturing, localised production and sustainable practice

Contact us

Centre for a Waste-Free World

Institute for Future Environments
Level 6, P Block
Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

Postal address

Centre for a Waste-Free World
Institute for Future Environments
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001

Gain Insights.
Receive our monthly e-news.
Subscribe