$8M soft plastics asphalt plant for Lake Macquarie City Council

Lake Macquarie City Council’s approval of an $8 million asphalt plant in Teralba has paved the way for soft plastics and other recycled material to be used in local road construction.

Assets and infrastructure giant Downer Group is expected to begin work this month to replace its Rhondda Road facility with a new plant capable of incorporating recycled materials into the asphalt it produces.

Once operational, the plant will create new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials such as soft plastics from plastic bags and packaging, glass and toner from used print cartridges.

Annual production is expected to be up to 160,000 tonnes depending on market demand.

Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Sustainability, Alice Howe, said due to the “hot-mix” nature of asphalt all of the material produced at the plant would be used in Lake Macquarie and neighbouring local government areas.

“It’s exciting to know we will be one of the first places in NSW to produce this new, sustainable asphalt, using materials that would once have been considered waste,” Dr Howe said.

Asphalt made partly of recycled plastic bags has already been trialled successfully in Victoria and Sydney but it is yet to be widely used.

Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the new plant would have the capability to use “significant quantities” of recycled materials.

“The new facility will be able to manufacture innovative and sustainable asphalt products released through our extensive research and development program,” Mr Billing said.

“This includes a better-performing asphalt product that repurposes soft plastics and toner from used print cartridges.

“This product has improved fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation, making the road last longer and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicles.”

Commissioning of the new Teralba plant is expected early next year. Dr Howe noted that earlier this year, Lake Macquarie City Council started using recycled glass “sand” in civil works projects, potentially closing the loop on thousands of tonnes glass waste placed in household recycling bins each year.

“Our adoption in July of a revamped three-bin service, where all food waste is placed in the green bin and converted into compost, has already diverted more than 1000 tonnes of organics from landfill.”

Lake Macquarie City Council Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said the plant would support local jobs and strengthen the city’s economy through advanced manufacturing.

“The site for this plant is within our North West Catalyst Area – the geographic heart of the Hunter and a focal point for growth over the next 30 years,” Cr Fraser said.