$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.

Deputy PM opens ARRB’s new HQ

Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, has officially opened the National Transport Research Centre – the Australian Road Research Board’s (ARRB) new national headquarters – in front of more than 250 guests at Port Melbourne.

McCormack, who is also the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, paid tribute to ARRB’s work as the National Transport Research Organisation, which will be furthered by the state-of-the-art research facility.

“Our transport future is on us now,” said McCormack.

“The George Jetson philosophy and visions of the future are happening right before us, and you at ARRB are front and centre of that.

“This facility is going to be front and centre of everything our nation is relying on (in roads and transport) with your world-class facilities,” he said.

ARRB Chief Executive Officer, Michael Caltabiano, has earmarked the Fishermans Bend precinct, where the new facility is situated, as a possible new test-bed for driverless vehicles.

“We need an urban test platform, and that is Fishermans Bend,” he said.

While it will need government commitment to make that happen, ARRB’s new multi-million dollar home offers the potential to be home base for a driverless vehicle test-bed to benefit all Australians and help shape Australia’s connected mobility future.

Created in partnership with workplace consulting specialists, Amicus, the National Transport Research Centre features world-class research labs and more than 100 staff working on everything from driverless vehicles and road safety to new smart pavements and what smart cities of the future should look like.

The opening day’s activities included displays of autonomous and electric vehicles from Holden, Tesla, Volvo, Jaguar and Mercedes, a hydrogen-powered Toyota, plus a look at one of ARRB’s current projects – a road safety drone.

The drone is engineered to deliver emergency equipment through traffic to accident victims who need it.

WMAA calls for Federal Govt leadership on waste

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has called on the Federal Government to use its position to lead the waste sector with policy and legislative measures to drive effective change.

It follows the release of a discussion paper to update the 2009 National Waste Policy that seeks input on priority issues for the future of Australia’s waste management and resource recovery.

Feedback on the discussion people will inform updates to the 2009 National Waste Policy for consideration by environment ministers later this year.

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It presents six key targets for Australia to encourage a circular economy for Australia to achieve by 2030, including a reduction of total waste generated by 10 per cent, achieving an 80 per cent recovery rate and phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics.

It also outlines a target to halve the volume of organic waste, increase average recycled content across all goods and infrastructure procurement and provide data to allow governments, business and individuals to make informed decisions.

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has called on the government to lead the national waste dialogue and provide leadership for the sector.

WMAA is also urging the Federal Government to take a whole of government approach to build a circular economy and take inspiration from Europe to develop a more sophisticated system.

The association identifies the lack of data across the entire supply chain as a hurdle to creating a more advanced network.

WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said the targets set out in the discussion paper must focus on growing jobs and the economy and ensuring the industry is able to support itself.

“Setting strong interim targets and providing clarity around how these targets will be enforced are a good start,” Ms Sloan said.

“The Federal Government has a number of tools that it can but is not utilising, including policy and legislative levers that can effectively drive change.

“For instance, the Federal Government can exert its import powers to ensure everything that comes to market adheres to extended producer responsibility best practice. It can also grant tax incentives to organisations that actively work towards the targets set in the paper,” she said.

WMAA says that using the Federal Government’s position would allow it to bring together national organisations such as national retailers, manufacturers, distributors and reprocessors.

“There is a real knowledge gap, particularly in the first four stages of this cycle and the Federal Government is in a position to collate this data through the Policy and national engagement,” Ms Sloan said.

“There is value in looking to the EU as they have shown how this can be done by effectively producing 54 clearly defined measures, all with responsibilities allocated. Further, the Federal Government needs to set up a third-party organisation, similar to WRAP UK, which sits uniquely in the space between government, business, and community to collate data and aid in the forging of partnerships to drive a sustainable economy.”

WMAA will be publishing a paper this week that will aim to provide information on how the Federal Government can support industry, boost jobs and drive economic growth through the National Waste Policy.

You can read the discussion paper here.

Nominations open for 2018 WA Infinity Awards

Nominations are now open for the Western Australia Waste Authority’s Infinity Awards 2018, which include nine new categories.

The awards recognise innovative solutions to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling.

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Individuals, business, local governments, schools, community organisations, state government agencies and media outlets are able to be nominated for the awards.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner ceremony on 15 November during National Recycling Week.

The awards for 2018 are:

  • Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award
  • Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award
  • Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award
  • 2018 Waste Champion
  • 2018 Young Waste Champion
  • Waste Team of the Year
  • Waste Innovation of the Year
  • Waste Wise School of the Year
  • Media Award

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the awards are an ideal opportunity to recognise and reward the work being done around the state to reduce waste.

“By launching new categories this year, we are hoping to offer more opportunities for deserving individuals and organisations to enter their projects and initiatives into the awards and be recognised for the good work that they do,” Mr Dawson said.

“I strongly encourage everyone to put your projects forward and enter this year’s awards.”

Nominations can be entered until 5 October. For more details, click here.