Waste Management In Action

Paving the way to greener roads: Alex Fraser

Two years on from Melbourne’s first ‘green road’ with PolyPave Asphalt, Alex Fraser shares the road ahead for sustainable infrastructure.

It’s a common misconception that putting materials such as broken glass and soft plastics into the right bin won’t matter much as there is a high chance it will eventually be sent to landfill.

In February this year, the Victorian Government unveiled Recycling Victoria, its sweeping plan of reform to establish a recycling system that Victorians can rely on.

A key component of the 10-year policy and action plan is to change how Victorians recycle, so that materials collected from households are high quality and can be used again to make new products.

“Under the plan, we’ll support industry and innovation, advancing research and development and supporting clean technologies that will create new markets and new business opportunities for recycled materials,” Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.

Brendan Camilleri, Asphalt GM at Alex Fraser, says the company is supporting Victoria’s circular economy through the ongoing rollout of its Green Roads PolyPave Asphalt.

The innovative, high performance asphalt product contains recycled materials, including plastic, glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement, transforming Victoria’s busiest roads into  some of its greenest infrastructure, built with high volumes of reclaimed materials.

In the two years since its launch, Green Roads PolyPave projects have been successfully implemented across nine municipal councils across Victoria and three local government areas in Queensland, resulting in overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Alex Fraser has many more projects in the works, paving the way towards sustainable infrastructure. Reflecting on the initiative, Camilleri says there is a project that resonates highly with him.

“The resurfacing project in Yarra City Council was one of our first and most memorable PolyPave projects,” he says.

Camilleri credits ongoing collaboration with government, industry and community as key to this successful initiative, which is effectively closing the loop on the recycling of multiple problem waste streams.

Stanley and Margaret Streets in Richmond were repaved with PolyPave, containing recycled glass, reclaimed asphalt, and HDPE plastic amounting to almost 100 tonnes of recycled waste. The premiere project reduced landfill by 97.3 tonnes and carbon emissions by 633 kilograms.

Approximately 7,300 two litre plastic bottles and 55,000 glass bottles were repurposed – equivalent to 1500 wheelie bins of waste glass and plastic, or the annual kerbside recycling collection for every household in the street.

“I will never forget the residents’ surprise when they realised that they had helped to build their own street with what they put in their recycling bins. Yarra City Council received incredible feedback from their community who were proud to see their recycling efforts were making a difference to the circular economy and the environment,” Camilleri says.

He highlights PolyPave as a standout example of how local communities can play an active and important role in sustainable outcomes.

“Local governments’ and communities’ role in recycling goes far beyond kerbside collection. None of us want to see tonnes of useful and reusable materials end up in landfill. That’s what drives Alex Fraser to keep innovating and finding new ways to recover, recycle and reuse problem waste materials,” Camilleri says.

“We’re diverting more than three million tonnes from landfill every year to manufacture the quality, sustainable construction materials needed to build greener roads.”

Camilleri says that while the sustainability benefits of using PolyPave Asphalt are well recognised, the high-performance asphalt product has much more to offer when it comes to quality and longevity.

The reuse of recycled material in PolyPave can reduce the carbon footprint of road projects by up to 65 per cent, and results is a considerably stronger pavement.

“Laboratory test results showed increased fatigue life, improved asphalt rut resistance, increased asphalt modulus/stiffness and a better resistance to moisture ingress,” he says.

“The research and development behind PolyPave has ensured it performs well on heavily trafficked roads and that – dependent on individual operating conditions – our customer can expect greater durability and a longer lifetime from their green roads.”

When it comes to development of Green Roads asphalt mixes, Camilleri says it’s a thorough process that is highly bespoke.

“Before we can start producing PolyPave the plastics must be recovered, sorted, washed and shredded; the glass must be carefully separated from co-mingled paper, metals and plastics, before the resulting fines can be processed into the specified aggregates approved for the asphalt mix design,” he says.

Back in May 2019, Alex Fraser opened its new high recycled technology asphalt plant along with an innovative glass recycling plant at the company’s Sustainable Supply Hub in Laverton North.

Camilleri says the new facilities have been pivotal to the ongoing innovation behind Green Roads products.

Camilleri notes that PolyPave is just one product in a broad suite of sustainable civil construction products recycled and manufactured by Alex Fraser.

The recycling leader has continually evolved to innovate recycled materials over several decades.

“Back in 2018 when we first paved Melbourne’s greenest Road with Yarra City Council, we revolutionised plastic in asphalt by incorporating the stuff you put into your recycling bin into a quality product used to build the roads you drive on every day,” he says.

Next up, the greener roads ambassadors are developing another Green Roads asphalt mix that aims to reuse volumes of soft plastics to markedly reduce the number of plastic bags and other single-use plastics ending up landfill, and the contamination of oceans and waterways.

“We are constantly working with our partners in industry and government to find innovative ways to lift the bar on sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of building and maintaining our cities,” he says.

It’s part of our ‘green roads’ promise, and what makes us Australia’s go-to provider for sustainable construction materials.

“PolyPave is a shining example of how we can close the loop on recycling; using recycled materials to build greener roads that deliver on sustainability, quality, cost and performance. With PolyPave, we’re literally paving the way to a greener future.”

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