“One of my main research interests is recycling electronic waste, specifically the materials from spent lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion batteries not only contain critical elements that can potentially be reused, but also consist of toxic elements that are harmful to our health and environment if landfilled. And yet, less than 5 per cent of them are recycled.
With exponential technological advancement comes the growing problem of e-waste, and in 2019, the global e-waste generation was about 53 million metric tons, which is around the weight of 4,500 Eiffel Towers. In Singapore, around 60,000 tonnes of e-waste is thrown out each year – that is the equivalent of every single person here discarding 70 mobile phones during that span of time.
I have published over 350 research papers and 28 patents, and am in the top 1 per cent of the world’s most highly cited researchers. I would say that some of my milestones in materials science and engineering are being a pioneering woman in setting up batteries research and innovation ecosystem in Singapore, and setting up the first e-waste recycling research and development lab in Singapore and this region.
It is common to face roadblocks and naysayers, but my advice is to not allow yourself to be discouraged. Believe in yourself and your vision, and don’t give up.Madhavi Srinivasan
To me, sustainability is interacting responsibly with the planet, and outside of my professional pursuits, I do my part by being a vegetarian, growing my own produce, and saving water and energy as much as possible. I wear several hats, but I am an organised person, so I compartmentalise tasks and am not easily distracted from the tasks at hand.
My advice to anyone looking for a career in sustainability is to go for it – this field offers numerous exciting and fulfilling opportunities to develop real-world solutions that can have significant impact on humanity and the world we live in. It is common to face roadblocks and naysayers, but my advice is to not allow yourself to be discouraged. Believe in yourself and your vision, and don’t give up.”