Recycled First driving waste reduction on transport projects

plastic waste

Hundreds of tonnes of waste plastic has been saved from landfill and used in transport projects across Victoria, as a result of the Victorian Government’s commitment to using local recycled materials.

eMesh is made from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene plastic and has been used to replace steel mesh in concrete for shared use paths across 22 Victorian road and rail projects and dozens of other infrastructure projects across Australia.

The recycled product is manufactured in Ballarat by Danbar Plastics for Enviromesh. The eMesh is packed by McCallum Industries, an Alfredton-based disability support organisation and social enterprise that employs about 90 people with disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

According to Victoria’s Big Build, Recycled products such as eMesh are keeping hundreds of tonnes of plastic out of landfill and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of projects – as well as creating jobs and investment in regional economies.

The Recycled First Policy plays a crucial role in this, as it requires transport infrastructure contractors to optimise their use of recycled and reused materials.

It’s estimated 10 Victorian jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of waste material kept out of landfill. In the next decade, this should lead to 3900 new jobs.

Since it was introduced in 2020, Recycled First has led to five times more recycled materials being used than previous years – with 1.3 million tonnes being integrated on Victorian transport projects.

The shift to recycled products is being driven by Victoria’s ecologiQ program, which is leveraging Victoria’s significant infrastructure investment to boost the use of recycled and reused materials, making these products business-as-usual and helping Victoria build local markets.

eMesh supplier Enviromesh has seen stronger demand, with 100 per cent year-on-year growth for eMesh in recent years, attributed in part to the Victorian Government’s efforts.

eMesh is an Australian innovation made from the second most commonly used plastic in the world, polypropylene, which also has the lowest recycling rate, estimated to be around one per cent.

eMesh is used across 22 Victorian major infrastructure projects, with 10 more planned, including the Monash Freeway UpgradeBarwon Heads Road UpgradeToorak Road, Kooyong and Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing level crossing removals and the Pakenham rail line upgrade.

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