Goal #12

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

UNSW is committed to responsible consumption and production and demonstrates this through:

  • Research and thought leadership that addresses responsible consumption and production
  • Courses that focus on sustainability and PRME principles, including life cycle engineering principles and practices 
  • Implementing sustainable procurement practices and systems to reduce, segregate and recycle our own waste.
  • The LEAF lab sustainability program 

Are we becoming less sustainable?

Despite the development of more efficient products like LED lights, flat screen TVs and fuel efficient cars, our consumption and production patterns have become less sustainable. How? The answer is complex but has a lot to do with the rebound effect, where an increase in technology efficiency drives an increase in consumption, eradicating all gains in ecoefficiency. Improvements in production patterns have made many products more efficient and often cheaper, and in response to this we have been consuming a lot more of them.

In this video, Professor Sami Kara from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW, breaks down some of the key challenges behind SDG #12.

 Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla of the SMART Centre

World first SMaRT Centre 

UNSW scientist Veena Sahajwalla opened the world’s first e-waste MICROfactorieTM in 2018 at UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre). The core aims of the SMaRT Centre are to develop novel research for sustainable materials and manufacturing processes, build industry partnerships to activate research for real world impact, and to disseminate green materials and manufacturing technologies that benefit industries, local communities, and enhance sustainable economic growth internationally. 

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ABC Australian Story

Watch this episode of Australian Story where Professor Sahajwalla is profiled for her incredible work in recycling, helping to reduce landfill and reimagine waste.


Watch the full episode


UNSW Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is a key element of our 2025 Strategy. Our students and staff are actively engaged in environmental and social issues. We recognise that we are uniquely positioned to contribute to solving global environmental challenges through teaching, research, thought leadership and demonstrating leading practices on our campuses.

Reduce and reuse programs at UNSW are implemented to achieve the Environmental Sustainability Plan targets. 

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Increased recycling and waste sorting on campus   

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 In 2021 general waste per equivalent Full-Time Student Load reduced by 43% compared to the 2018 baseline. The reduction was supported by waste reduction initiatives, but the majority of the reduction resulted from reduced campus activity. 83% recycling of general waste was achieved in 2021, a significant improvement on the 2019 rate of 49%, and was supported by the successful roll-out of new recycling systems.

UNSW has also achieved a minimum 90% recycling of construction and demolition waste for capital projects since 2019 and a Construction and Demolition Waste Management Guideline was completed and rolled out to support project teams and their contractors to achieve the target.  

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UNSW Sustainable Procurement Framework

UNSW launched its Sustainable Procurement Vision 2018-2025, aimed at delivering outstanding environmental, social and economic benefits to UNSW students, staff and community through understanding and strengthening UNSW supply chains.

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UNSW Environmental Sustainability Plan

UNSW has a history of environmental stewardship across research, learning & teaching and campus operations across several decades. The Environmental Sustainability Plan (ESP) will build on past achievements, while raising our ambition levels to meet the environmental challenges of today.

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Sustainable Manufacturing and Life Cycle Engineering Research Group

UNSW Sustainable Manufacturing and Life Cycle Engineering Research Group 

The Research Group was established in 1998 within the UNSW School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and partnered with ARC and Baxter Australia to investigate how energy and water flow in manufacturing environments in order to identify the hot spots for reduction or reclamation of energy and water usage

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Turtle in ocean

Ghost Nets Study  

The UNSW SMaRT Centre and not-for-profit partner TierraMar completed a study for the Australian Government on improved removal and processing of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (or ghost nets) from Australia’s northern waters. 

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Breaking the chain of modern slavery

UNSW is committed to ensuring a strong response to modern slavery, ensuring:

  • UNSW operations and supply chains do not cause, involve or contribute to modern slavery; and
  • UNSW suppliers, collaborators and others with whom UNSW does business, respect and share the University’s commitment to minimising the risk of modern slavery.

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UNSW Sustainable Development Goals 2022 Report

This report outlines UNSW's performance against the SDGs in 2022.


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