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Sustainability Challenge showcases solutions for a brighter future

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From urban greening to reducing food waste, Curtin University students have joined forces with industry to develop creative solutions to real-world problems in the Sustainability Challenge 2024.

Now in its third year, the Challenge continues to foster interdisciplinary teamwork and practical problem-solving across three themes: Net-Zero Emissions, Circular Economy and Nature Positive.

Professor Josh Byrne, Dean of Sustainable Futures in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University, said the week-long challenge is a unique opportunity for students to get hands-on industry experience and help shape a more sustainable future.

“The Sustainability Challenge connected nearly 100 students with academic mentors and industry experts to develop solutions for positive environmental change,” Professor Byrne said.

“Teams tackled diverse sustainability issues, including shifting transport behaviours, facilitating increased renewable energy on the grid, waste avoidance, reducing contamination in FOGO (food organics and garden organics) waste streams, and increasing urban tree canopy by responding to the pest polyphagous shot-hole borer and promoting better urban forestry practices.

“Students came up with inspiring ideas, such as an app that tracks carbon emission reduction and encourages the use of public transport and shared scooters.

“Another team developed a video game to educate consumers on proper waste sorting. There were plans developed to expand urban forests in challenging environments, as well as practical strategies to improve energy reliability and boost renewable energy generation on the fringe of the grid and in regional towns.”

Professor Byrne said sustainability is a fundamental concern and a growing priority across industry, government and the community.

“Collectively, we must tackle pressing sustainability challenges locally and globally, and the projects put forward by our industry partners are a great way to engage the next generation of climate champions,” Professor Byrne said.

“The dedication and innovative solutions presented by our students this year have been truly inspiring. It is evident the future of sustainability is in capable hands.”

The industry partners involved in this year’s Challenge included Ampcontrol, Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council, City of Cockburn, Cleanaway, Beam Mobility, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Transport, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Cossill & Webley, GHD and Curtin University’s Properties, Facilities and Development department.

The Sustainability Challenge ran from 24 June to 1 July. As part of the Challenge, participating students received 25 credit points towards their undergraduate or postgraduate degree.

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