Downer opens soft plastics asphalt plant in Lake Macquarie

Plastic bags, recycled glass and printer toner will be used in the construction of new Hunter roads as part of a $5 million overhaul of Downer’s asphalt plant in Teralba, Lake Macquarie.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser officially opened the site this week, with the ability to process thousands of tonnes each year of sustainable road and pavement materials for the Hunter Region and Central Coast.

The facility is one of the most advanced of its kind in Australia, capable of producing a wide range of products including asphalt containing recycled tyre rubber and Reconophalt, an innovative asphalt product that contains high recycled content from materials such as soft plastics, glass, toner and reclaimed road.

The soft plastics are collected through the RedCycle program, which has collection bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, while waste toner used in the product comes from the national Planet Ark recycling initiative.

Every kilometre of two-lane road made with Reconophalt contains the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and 12,500 toner cartridges.

Cr Fraser said today’s opening, which coincides with World Environment Day, bolstered Lake Macquarie’s reputation for encouraging and embracing sustainable businesses and practices.

“I congratulate Downer on investing in new methods to close the loop on recycled materials,” Cr Fraser said.

“In the past 12 months in Lake Mac, we’ve seen the introduction of recycled glass sand in Council’s civil works, a trial of recycled materials in concrete footpaths and now this next step in our war on waste.”

Downer’s Executive General Manager Road Services, Dante Cremasco, said the milestone event held on World Environment Day demonstrates the importance of partnerships with councils and road authorities to maximise sustainable outcomes for the future growth of the region.

“The innovation our new Teralba asphalt plant brings will see us not only lower our carbon footprint, but also incorporate new streams of recycled materials into the asphalt we lay, further improving sustainable outcomes for the region’s local communities and their roads,” Mr Cremasco said.

“Downer’s investment in this flexible pavement products manufacturing hub allows us to reduce our reliance on increasingly scarce virgin materials by over 30 per cent and improve our energy consumption by up to 15 per cent, which are really pleasing outcomes for the region.”

Testing of the new Reconophalt material showed it lasted longer and was less prone to deformation than traditional forms of asphalt.

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Downer and Adelaide deliver Australia’s first recycled road

In an Australian-first, the City of Adelaide has partnered with Downer to construct Australia’s first road made completely from recycled material.

The recycled road is made up of reclaimed asphalt pavement from local streets and recycled vegetable oil.

The asphalt mix was processed through Downer’s asphalt plant in Wingfield, before being laid on Chatham Street in the city’s south west.

Downer’s General Manager Pavements, Stuart Billing, said the event demonstrates the importance of partnerships.

“Together with City of Adelaide, we have set a new benchmark in achieving sustainable solutions, The 100 percent recycled road saves up to 65 percent CO2e emissions when mixed at a lower temperature (warm mix asphalt), compared to standard asphalt made with virgin materials,” he said.

“Our Australian-first 100 percent recycled asphalt is about 25 percent stronger than standard asphalt, which means it will be able to better resist deformation.”

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said the demonstration aligns with the councils ambition to becoming a leading green, liveable and creative city.

“The project originates from a Motion on Notice brought to Council last year, which asked the administration to seek to maximise the amount of recycled material used within our roads,” she said.

“At around the same cost as the standard process, the recycled road is cost-effective and, as we’re recycling our own materials, it has a great benefit to the environment.”

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Repurpose It launches Australian-first washing plant

Repurpose It has launched Australia’s first $8.5 million construction and demolition washing plant facility with Downer, who have come on board as a 50 per cent partner.

The 150 acre facility will recover and treat residual waste and process it into materials suitable for the civil construction industry, with a focus on reducing the reliance on excavated materials.

Repurpose It’s new washing plant will focus on reducing CO2 emissions, saving more than 84,000 tonnes of CO2 annually or the equivalent of planting 300,000 trees and 295 million kilometres of car travel.

This is achieved through a process of washing and recycling ordinarily difficult to recover materials through advanced screening, scrubbing and water treatment.

Repurpose It’s Founder and CEO, George Hatzimanolis explained change in the industry is vital following the sharp growth in demand for extractive resources in Victoria’s infrastructure sector and the growing number of materials buried under landfill.

“Our new construction and demolition washing plant will revolutionise the way we manage waste through our investment in cutting edge technology, allowing us to supply in-demand materials back to the industry while preserving the environment”, Mr Hatzimanolis said.

Downer Executive General Manager of Road Services Dante Cremasco said the plant highlighted the importance of partnerships to deliver sustainable practices and solutions in Australia.

“The new recycling facility demonstrates that with strong partnerships we can deliver change.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to work together to drive the circular economy, creating new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It is all about pulling products that we can use, not pushing waste,” Mr Cremasco said.

Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state government invested $500,000 into the project as part of a Resource Recovery Infrastructure grant.

“We’re supporting large-scale infrastructure projects like this one to reduce Victoria’s dependence on landfills, create new jobs and drive investment.

“Our Recycling Industry Strategic Plan is helping Victoria’s recycling sector adjust to changes in world recycling markets so more material is diverted from landfill,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Repurpose It will partner with the state government on other projects to integrate waste into road and rail infrastructure works, including the Level Crossing Removal Project, Metro Trains, North East Link and the Western Distributor.

The latest round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund is now open, with grants between $40,000 and $500,000 available to support efficient sorting, and the recovery and reprocessing of priority materials such as plastic, paper, cardboard and glass.

A further $1.2 million is also available to support the market development of recycled materials.

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First SA road built with plastic bags and glass

The first South Australian road built with soft plastics and glass at Happy Valley in the City of Onkaparinga will utilise plastic from approximately 139,000 plastic bags and packaging and 39,750 glass bottle equivalents.

Downer and City of Onkaparinga have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group for the project, following similar projects in NSW and Victoria.

Along with soft plastics and glass, toner from about 3200 used printer cartridges and more than 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 265 tonnes of asphalt used to construct the road along Caribbean Crescent in Happy Valley.

Downer Executive General Manager Road Services Dante Cremasco said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in natural environments.

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“Together with City of Onkaparinga and our partners, we have proven that with thought leadership and the tenacity to make a positive difference, we have set a new benchmark in the state when it comes to sustainability by creating new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste,” Mr Cremasco said.

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product called Reconophalt has enhanced properties of improved strength and resistance to deformation making the road last longer, andallowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Cremasco added.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said this is an exciting South Australian first and demonstrates council’s commitment to working with industry on innovative and cost-effective solutions to a changing operating environment.

“The City of Onkaparinga manages and maintains over 1350 kilometres of sealed roads and works hard to ensure they’re well maintained as cost effectively as possible and in line with leading asset management principles,” Mayor Thompson said.

“We also collect approximately 14,000 tonnes of recyclables every year. Major disruptions in international markets for recyclables over the last 12 months present significant challenges, as well as emerging opportunities.”

“Creating local demand for recyclables products is one such opportunity and this is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by government working with industry.”

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

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnership with RED Group has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a SA road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.

Close the Loop unveils new soft plastics manufacturing line

Close the Loop has unveiled a new manufacturing line in Melbourne capable of converting 200,000 tonnes of soft plastic and toner waste into an asphalt additive for roads.

The new facility has the potential to divert two thirds of Australia’s total 300,000 tonnes of soft plastic waste from landfill annually. The TonerPlas asphalt additive comprises the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and 12,000 recycled toner cartridges per every kilometre of two-lane road.

The company’s product has already been laid on roads in major Melbourne and Sydney hubs in conjunction with integrated services company Downer, with the line opening to commercial scale during National Recycling Week.

Close the Loop Chairman Craig Devlin said the company has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years.

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“Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors, including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries,” Mr Devlin said.

Mr Devlin said its TonerPlas asphalt additive is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products.

“The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65 per cent, meaning longer lasting roads at a cost-competitive price.

“It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”

He said that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and reuse of products through a circular economy.

Mr Devlin said Australia’s recycling industry needs to invest in future waste solutions with greater infrastructure research to meet problematic landfill demands.

“Our new manufacturing capacity to reuse soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do. However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry,” Mr Delvin said.

“Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge”.

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Downer and Close the Loop build NSW road from recycled plastics

Plastic from around 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and glass from around 55,000 bottles has been diverted from landfill to build New South Wales’ first road made from soft plastics and glass.

Downer and Sutherland Shire Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police to build the road in the Sydney suburb of Engadine.

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Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.

“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.

“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.

“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.

“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”

Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, 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 Billing said.

The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.