Upcycling Materials

Are you keen to save turtles from waste fishing nets? Have you seen massive amount of waste coffee in your local coffee shops and thought is there any use for this waste? In this project, we bring these two waste challenges together and create an opportunity.

In this project, we will use ghost net (discarded fishing net in the oceans) and coffee waste (coffee ground) as the resources for producing new products that can be used in the built environment.

This project will enable us to look at waste differently and see how we can use the inherent properties of materials and using them as part of the process for manufacturing high-quality products. This project is a demonstration of how we can turn waste into resources if we change our perspective.

What Students will do:

Using cutting-edge technology, students will characterise different waste materials, especially polymers, using this information to strategising the best way to turn their waste material to usable products. Using our laboratories, students turn these creative ideas into reality and test how well their plans worked compared to industry standards.


  • Curiosity and love for the environment

Relevant High-School Subjects (not essential): 

  • Earth & Environmental Science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Areas of Student Interest:

  • Innovative Engineering

  • Material Science 

  • Product Design and Testing

  • Recycling and Upcycling; Waste Characterisation and Processing

  • Environmental Science

Farshid Pahlevani

Lead Academic - A/Prof Farshid Pahlevani, School of Material Science and Engineering

Farshid is an international expert on innovative solutions for waste challenges, includes considerable experience working closely with industry to improve existing processes to achieve better environmental outcomes and greater cost efficiencies. His solutions enable manufacturing industries to save millions of dollars and turning their waste into resources.


Smitirupa Biswal

Mentor - Smitirupa Biswal, PhD student, School of Materials Science and Engineering 

Smitirupa's research interests include extractive metallurgy, recycling of carbon-based and oxide materials, solid-state phase transformation, alloy design and high temperature processes. Her PhD research focuses on the application of spent coffee grounds for iron recovery which is vital for making steel. Apart from research, she likes cooking, exploring places and playing board games.


Md. Shahruk Nur-a-Tomal

Mentor - Md. Shahruk Nur-a-Tomal, PhD student, School of Materials Science and Engineering 

Born and brought up in a town in Bangladesh, Tomal’s love for science was ignited at a young age. His research involves developing microrecycling solution for conversion of waste plastics into high-quality products using available machinery in novel combination. In addition to doing research, he likes to travel and watch documentaries.