Downer partners with Close the Loop for Australian-first project

Soft plastics from plastic bags and packaging and glass bottle equivalents will be diverted from landfill to construct a Victorian road in an Australian-first trial.

Integrated infrastructure organisation Downer and Hume City Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group to set a new benchmark in sustainability.

The trial will comprise approximately 200,000 bags and packaging and 63,000 glass bottle equivalents. The initiative is supported by the Victorian Government’s Resource Recovery Market Development Fund, more information on that here. 

Along with soft plastics and glass, toner from more than 4500 used printer cartridges and 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 250 tonnes of asphalt that will be used to construct a road in and around Rayfield Avenue, Craigieburn, located in Melbourne’s north.

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Downer’s Executive General Manager Road Services, Dante Cremasco said the milestone event showed that partnerships with other thought leaders can create economic, social and environmental value for products. He added these are products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.

Mr Cremasco said that together with its customer Hume City Council and partners, Downer has set a new benchmark in the construction industry.

“What is also pleasing to see is that this sustainable, cost competitive road has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Cremasco said

Hume Mayor Geoff Porter said the council was proud to join Downer and its partners in the Australian-first trial.

“Hume City Council is very proud to be home to Australia’s first road which sees soft plastics and glass diverted from landfills and repurposed to create local roads,” Cr Porter said.

“We look forward to monitoring the trial of this recycled asphalt and how the new surface performs over time.”

Cr Porter said sustainability is a key priority for the council and its community.

“This is just one way we are working in partnership to respond to recycling industry concerns and highlights the importance of residents and businesses recycling materials, particularly soft plastics and glass, properly,” Cr Porter said.

Downer partnered with Close the Loop and RED Group to tailor waste products such as soft plastics to suit a road construction application.

Close the Loop Australia General Manager Nerida Mortlock said its partnership with Downer and RED Group has allowed the company to work collaboratively to improve the way it designs and manufactures sustainable outcomes for waste that can be reused.

“We are very pleased to set yet another industry benchmark, seeing soft plastics used for the first time in an Australian road,” Ms Mortlock said.

RED Group Elizabeth Kasell said it demonstrates a great step toward a circular system, where soft plastic packaging recovered through the REDcycle Program and other materials previously destined for landfill can be used as a resource for Australian roads.