Partner Profile
Dr Salwan Al-Assafi

Dr Salwan Al-Assafi

General Manager R&D
Paintback


Tell us a bit about yourself, your career path, interests, and hobbies.

I am a Materials Scientist. I received my postgraduate degrees from the University of Florida in the US. I have a broad industrial R&D background in areas ranging from construction materials to high-performance composite materials. My career journey has been anything but boring, working in a range of industries in various countries. My journey started in New Jersey, followed by Auckland and Dubai, before ending up in Melbourne. I have over 15 year’s experience in managing R&D programs, with an emphasis on processing and performance of materials. As for hobbies I enjoy biking, nature walks, and travelling.

Tell us about your role at Paintback.

My role at Paintback is to lead the R&D Team and manage the R&D portfolio.  An important aspect in my role is to identify and secure new strategic R&D opportunities to deliver our stewardship outcomes.  I am also active in looking for opportunities to collaborate with various industries and academic institutions that share in our purpose.

Who is Paintback and what makes them unique?

Paintback is an industry-led initiative designed to divert unwanted paint and packaging from ending in landfill and vital waterways.  Paintback is driven by the Australian paint industry and the major companies that supply around 90% of all the architectural and decorative (A&D) paint sold in Australia. Paintback’s founding members are Dulux, Haymes, PPG, Resene and Wattyl.  What makes our stewardship unique is the strong focus on R&D programs to achieve our objectives in creating a net environmental benefit and deliver sustainable solutions for our material streams.

What is the main driver for Paintback’s partnership with SmartCrete CRC?

Our aim is to develop processes and procedures to upcycle our water-based paint into admixture for concrete in non-structural applications. SmartCrete is a great vehicle to help us achieve our objectives by facilitating collaboration with industry and academic experts in the field of concrete materials.  SmartCrete also offers a comprehensive approach from proof of concept to commercialisation, and provides access to partners throughout the supply chain.

How is your research with SmartCrete CRC able to facilitate in helping Paintback achieve their business goals?

SmartCrete is providing access to industrial and academic partners with technical expertise and state-of-the-art equipment to help Paintback achieve its circular economy goals by developing highly valuable applications for the concrete industry.

Describe some of the problems or challenges you are trying to solve in the industry?

Paintback is at the forefront of developing circular economy solutions from used paint that would benefit the concrete industry and reduce reliance on virgin materials in Australia. 

Success requires an effort from all those who participate in and influence the supply and value chains, to play their part in helping to keep these valuable resources circulating for as long as possible.  It requires a different way of thinking, to problem solve and see many materials that currently go to waste, as something valuable and worth reusing.

In my experience, the concrete and infrastructure sector are early adopters of this role and through SmartCrete we can develop a robust, evidence-based, specification for circular products that meet their needs.

What changes are you aiming to achieve with your work in the industry that will impact the lives of future generations?

Paintback’s vision is to take used paint’s colourful past to a brighter future of innovative re-use. 

For example, the adoption of water-based paint as an admixture will contribute to the concrete industry’s drive for a green and sustainable future.

We hope our leadership will inspire others to take responsibility for their products and help decouple our future growth and standard of living from consuming the earth’s finite and precious resources.