Greasy wool is defined as recently shorn and unprocessed wool which contains a substantial amount of natural pollutants that must be washed off through a process of scouring before it can be used. This scouring process then produces waste sludge; which is comprised of high levels of organic material and potentially toxic sheep dip pesticides, serving to complicate disposal methods.
In 2017, globally the production of greasy wool was approximately 1.08 million tonnes which resulted in more than 300,000 tonnes of waste sludge disposed of as prescribed waste in landfill or through combustion.
Dr Jinfeng Wang, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) at Deakin University and her research team are investigating regenerative solutions for waste wool sludge by composting it into valuable resources like soil, fertiliser and potting mix.
They will evaluate the composting technology as a way to reduce levels of contamination in scouring sludge to acceptable levels, and then reuse the sludge for landscaping and garden use.
From the paddock to the garden bed, researchers hope to obtain a high-value solution for waste wool sludge.