Circular Economy in Action: Reusing Hospital PPE

School students wearing face masks listen to a researcher in a lab.


As we emerge from the recent pandemic, there has been an increase in PPE waste, particularly disposable face masks, with significant impacts on the environment. Opportunities lie in the re-use of waste for local re-manufacture and commercial production, establishing closed loop industries for local employment, community wealth building and sustainable practices.

The project

Leveraging leading research by UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT), the Greater Cities Commission has worked with partners at UNSW, Westmead Hospital and local high schools to establish a micro-factory for the re-manufacture of hospital waste into new generation green materials such as green ceramics and recycled plastics.

This clear demonstration of the potential for remanufacturing PPE waste (e.g. face masks) and exploring circular economy opportunities for the NSW health system and industry in the Central River City.


  • Tangible high-quality ceramic and plastic products that can be reused in the health system and promote community awareness and education.
  • Demonstrate the potential to expand the project to include broader range of PPE materials explore possibilities of further collaboration with other health precincts and schools.
  • Set precedence for other industries to explore opportunities to innovate with waste for positive economic and environmental impact.

Priority research areas

  • Powering Local Jobs and Economies
  • Climate Resilient Green Cities

Find out more about our priority research areas (PDF, 1.93MB).

Program Partners

Find out more about our research

The complete research strategy, including our priorities, approach, partners and information on our innovation districts, is available below.