Sixteen metropolitan Sydney councils have joined forces to recycle nearly 100 million glass containers per year into local roads, through the largest local government-led procurement of recycled road-making materials in NSW history.
A request for tender, released last week by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC), seeks to initiate a new age of road-making by using recycled crushed glass as a substitute for natural sand in roads and footpaths, in line with Transport for NSW and AUS-SPEC specifications.
The initiative, Paving the Way, is expected to create a market for over 20,000 tonnes of glass per year – approximately one-third of participating council’s household glass recycling collections – without compromising existing recycling of glass into beverage containers.
“This is a game-changer that puts every household on the frontline of a stronger, more sustainable society and reinforces the critical role played by the community in separating their recycling,” SSROC President John Faker said.
“Our councils are working hard to ensure that every single recyclable material put into the yellow-lidded bin is used as a resource.”
By signalling ongoing aggregated demand to the market, SSROC aims to stimulate end markets for recycled glass, as well as support local jobs and the development of recycling infrastructure.
The use of recycled crushed glass is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the transport of virgin sand from distant quarries.
The procurement’s contract model will track emissions and volumes of recycled materials to help councils report on sustainability targets.
“Local governments, especially when working collaboratively and buying wisely, can support growing and new markets and therefore the industries and jobs that result,” SSROC Acting General Manager Helen Sloan said.
“Paving the Way is a great model for the future, and we welcome other councils to join the resulting contract.”
Paving the Way is the first project under SSROC’s Procure Recycled memorandum of understanding, signed by councils in November 2019.
Developed in response to China’s National Sword policy and COAG’s forthcoming export ban, Procure Recycled seeks to prioritise recycled materials in council procurement.
Since November, SSROC has worked closely with Transport for NSW, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the NSW EPA to refine specifications and align policies on recycled civil works materials.
Procure Recycled will also identify more council procurement opportunities for other materials from kerbside recycling, including products made from recycled plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene.
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said the initiative will help increase recycled material uptake and boost local economies.
“I want to make sure that NSW is a leader when it comes to recycling waste and maximising recycling, this is not just an environmental strategy but an economic one as well,” he said.
“This is about the NSW Government empowering business and local government through innovative and sustainable initiatives that help to build essential infrastructure, creating jobs and driving a robust economy.”
Participating councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, City of Sydney, Fairfield, Georges River, Hornsby, Inner West, Northern Beaches, Randwick, Ryde, Sutherland, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra.