Recycled plastic used to resurface Melbourne streets

The City of Melbourne is using plastic previously destined for landfill to resurface five prominent city streets.

According to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the first road to be re-surfaced with asphalt made with recycled plastic was Flinders Street, with works occurring between Exhibition Street and Spring Street in October.

“We collect 11,000 tonnes of residential recycling each year. Using a mix of plastic to resurface our streets is one way we can support the circular economy and reduce landfill,” Ms Capp said.

“The paving on these historically significant streets will look exactly the same as any other street. The difference is that using plastic in the asphalt creates demand for recycled products.”

Sections of Anderson Street in South Yarra have also been resurfaced, with further works on Alexandra Avenue to be completed this week.

Ms Capp said works will also be completed on sections of Spring Street next year, between Little Collins Street and Little Bourke Street and Flinders Street and Collins Street.

Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood said the paving consists of 50 per cent recycled plastics and other recyclable materials such as slag aggregates and recycled asphalt products, with the remaining made of virgin materials.

Mr Wood said the trial will allow the city to assess whether it can use more recycled materials and plastic for road resurfacing.

“The City of Melbourne uses 10,000 tonnes of asphalt annually, and we resurfaced eight kilometres of road last year. This trial will help us understand whether it’s possible to use recycled plastic in more of our major projects,” Mr Wood said.

“By using recycled plastic and other recycled materials on our roads we’re creating more sustainable infrastructure and showing there are local markets for recycled materials.”

The trial is a joint initiative from the City of Melbourne, its subsidiary Citywide, and the Citywide North Melbourne Asphalt Plant, with plastic waste sourced from metropolitan Melbourne.

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ARRB awarded Sustainability Victoria grant

The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) has been awarded a $200,000 Sustainability Victoria grant to trial recycled crushed glass asphalt on local roads.

The grant was issued to ARRB in collaboration with Vic Roads and Brimbank City Council in Melbourne’s west.

According to ARRB project lead Doctor James Grenfell, over 250,000 tonnes of glass is recovered in Victoria every year.

“Using finely crushed glass in road pavement materials has the potential to create viable markets for the vast amounts of glass collected in Victoria, especially that which is low-value and not easily recycled back into other glass products,” Dr Grenfell said.

“ARRB has done significant research in this space – much of which was showcased at its recent Smart Pavements Now masterclass event in Melbourne.”

Dr Grenfell said the trial will specifically look at repurposing low-value glass that is not easily recycled back into other glass products.

“The potential for use of recycled glass in asphalt offers great opportunities for councils, especially in helping deal with Australia’s current recycling issue,” Dr Grenfell said.

“The other exciting aspect is the engagement with a local city council, and to have the ability to monitor a field trial for an extended period of time.”

The ARRB grant is one of nine issued under Sustainability Victoria’s research, development and demonstration grants program.

Sustainability Victoria interim CEO Carl Muller said the grants are designed to support Victoria’s growing circular economy.

“We need proven recycled content products and markets for those products to make recycling viable,” Mr Muller said.

“This will build confidence and market demand.”

The grant proposal was developed by Dr Grenfell and ARRB colleagues Melissa Lyons and Lydia Thomas.

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Six new local governments join Tyre Stewardship

A further six local government authorities have received Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, after using tyre-derived raw materials in infrastructure projects.

The six new local governments are Burdekin Shire Council (QLD), Campbelltown City Council (SA), Launceston Shire Council (TAS), Paroo Shire Council (QLD), Prospect City Council (SA) and Upper Hunter Shire (NSW).

TSA CEO Lina Goodman said having local authorities on board was a vital step towards ensuring the sustainable management of old tyres.

Ms Goodman also noted having more councils on board would help drive the commercial viability of developing new and improved tyre-derived products.

“Along with transport companies, local governments deploy significant fleets of vehicles,” Ms Goodman said.

“Ensuring that the tyre needs of those fleets are catered for only by entities committed to responsible end-of-life tyre management can make a significant impact on sustainable outcomes for the over 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates every year.”

According to Ms Goodman, all newly TSA accredited councils will be closely watching crumbed-rubber asphalt trials in South Australia’s City of Mitcham, with a view off specifying the use of similar surfaces for their future road maintenance and enhancement projects.

“Crumbed-rubber asphalt has been in extensive use overseas, in climatic conditions similar to Australia, with long term use in California, Arizona and South Africa delivering excellent road performance results and highly desirable sustainability outcomes,” Ms Goodman said.

“The local road trial will be looking at a range of performance factors, such as cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability.”

Ms Goodman said all local authorities have the opportunity to use recycled tyre-derived materials in urban infrastructure, through both well-established applications and rapidly emerging new products.

“Existing uses of tyre derived material, for applications such as providing soft fall surfaces on playgrounds, are being added to by innovations such as erosion protection wall systems in waterways, noise barriers along roads and permeable pavements for carparks, footpaths and walking tracks,” Ms Goodman said.

“A major focus for the development of new materials is the continual improvement and tailoring of crumbed-rubber asphalt used in roads.”

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Downer and Adelaide deliver Australia’s first recycled road

In an Australian-first, the City of Adelaide has partnered with Downer to construct Australia’s first road made completely from recycled material.

The recycled road is made up of reclaimed asphalt pavement from local streets and recycled vegetable oil.

The asphalt mix was processed through Downer’s asphalt plant in Wingfield, before being laid on Chatham Street in the city’s south west.

Downer’s General Manager Pavements, Stuart Billing, said the event demonstrates the importance of partnerships.

“Together with City of Adelaide, we have set a new benchmark in achieving sustainable solutions, The 100 percent recycled road saves up to 65 percent CO2e emissions when mixed at a lower temperature (warm mix asphalt), compared to standard asphalt made with virgin materials,” he said.

“Our Australian-first 100 percent recycled asphalt is about 25 percent stronger than standard asphalt, which means it will be able to better resist deformation.”

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said the demonstration aligns with the councils ambition to becoming a leading green, liveable and creative city.

“The project originates from a Motion on Notice brought to Council last year, which asked the administration to seek to maximise the amount of recycled material used within our roads,” she said.

“At around the same cost as the standard process, the recycled road is cost-effective and, as we’re recycling our own materials, it has a great benefit to the environment.”

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ACT trials recycled asphalt

The ACT is trialling asphalt made from recycled material including soft plastics, used printer toner cartridges, crushed glass and reclaimed asphalt material.

Roads Minister Chris Steel said the ACT is looking into how it could legislate a waste use requirement for new roads across the state, adding that if Australia hopes to build a circular economy all governments need to act and establish markets for the re-use of material.

“Every tonne of this innovative asphalt product will contain approximately 800 plastic bags, 300 glass bottles, 18 used printer toner cartridges and 250 kilograms of reclaimed asphalt.

“The reclaimed asphalt has been sourced from local roads, glass from the ACT’s kerbside recycling (yellow bin) system, and some of the soft plastic through the ACT Container Deposit Scheme,” Mr Steel said.

The first trial is being conducted on a roundabout on Gundaroo Drive, with the asphalt designed to be stronger and more resistant to deformation that standard material.

“The roundabout on Gundaroo Drive is a great place to trial this asphalt as it is a heavy traffic area, where vehicles are turning, and therefore putting more pressure on the road surface,” Mr Steel said.

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City of Mitcham uses waste tyres in asphalt trial

Around 850 used tyres have been recycled to pave a 335 metre stretch of road as part of a crumbed rubber asphalt trial in the City of Mitcham, South Australia.

The asphalt trial is funded by Tyre Stewardship Australia to support research and development into ways of improving local markets for tyre-derived products.

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A specific warm mix of dense-graded crumb rubber modified asphalt was used on the trial, which has been laboratory tested and found to be suitable for use in challenging underlying soil conditions, such as reactive clay.

The test will focus on a range of performance factors including cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability. The results of the test are expected to increase the specification of such roads across Australia.

If successful, the trail aims to contribute to doubling the use of recycled tyre rubber in Australia’s roads, leading to an increase in the percentage of annual used tyres consumed from around five per cent to 10 per cent.

Australia generates around 56 million end-of-life tyres each year, however only around 10 per cent of that volume is recycled domestically in all uses. Crumbed rubber asphalt and rubberised road surface spray seals can provide a potentially benefit of increasing recycling rates and improving roads.

City of Mitcham Mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said there was not only a sustainability dividend, as the asphalt will also have the potential to directly lower maintenance costs as it is less prone to cracking and rutting.

“We are trialling the crumb rubber asphalt because of the significant environmental benefits as well as the opportunity to improve the quality and life of road pavements, particularly in areas of reactive clay soils,” Ms Holmes-Ross said.

Acting CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia Steve Clifford congratulated the council for conducting the test.

“The work done in South Australia will play an important role in creating valuable domestic recycling outcomes for end-of-life tyres. Outcomes that can also deliver new green jobs,” Mr Clifford said.

Ongoing testing is scheduled to run for two years, with results monitored on a regular basis to assess the key performance parameters.

Close the Loop unveils new soft plastics manufacturing line

Close the Loop has unveiled a new manufacturing line in Melbourne capable of converting 200,000 tonnes of soft plastic and toner waste into an asphalt additive for roads.

The new facility has the potential to divert two thirds of Australia’s total 300,000 tonnes of soft plastic waste from landfill annually. The TonerPlas asphalt additive comprises the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and 12,000 recycled toner cartridges per every kilometre of two-lane road.

The company’s product has already been laid on roads in major Melbourne and Sydney hubs in conjunction with integrated services company Downer, with the line opening to commercial scale during National Recycling Week.

Close the Loop Chairman Craig Devlin said the company has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years.

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“Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors, including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries,” Mr Devlin said.

Mr Devlin said its TonerPlas asphalt additive is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products.

“The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65 per cent, meaning longer lasting roads at a cost-competitive price.

“It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”

He said that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and reuse of products through a circular economy.

Mr Devlin said Australia’s recycling industry needs to invest in future waste solutions with greater infrastructure research to meet problematic landfill demands.

“Our new manufacturing capacity to reuse soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do. However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry,” Mr Delvin said.

“Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge”.

City of Yarra uses recycled glass and plastic in road resurfacing

Around 100 tonnes of recycled glass and plastic have been used in a road resurfacing project in Melbourne’s City of Yarra.

A road resurfacing trial took place in the suburb of Richmond, with Stanley and Margaret Street repaved with an asphalt product containing recycled glass, asphalt and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic.

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The project repurposed around 7300 two litres plastic bottles and 55,000 glass bottles, which is equivalent to the annual kerbside recycling collection for every household on Stanley Street.

The City of Yarra engaged recycling company Alex Fraser for the project and has called on the company to repair and repave more streets in the coming weeks, which will use an additional 1000 tonnes of sustainable asphalt.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said this was a prime example of how a circular economy can be achieved – with government, industry and community working together to recycle problem waste streams, and invest in recycled materials to build new, sustainable infrastructure.

“The City of Yarra’s progressive approach to the use of sustainable material is an excellent illustration of how local councils can proactively reuse the waste generated in their communities to build and maintain their cities while reducing the carbon footprint of their projects by up to 65 per cent,” Mr Murphy said.

City of Yarra Mayor Daniel Nguyen said the City of Yarra had worked with Alex Fraser to incorporate sustainable materials like glass and recycled concrete into its road works.

“As a council with a strong focus on sustainability we are excited about using recycled plastics in our latest roadworks for the wide range of environmental benefits it delivers,” said Cr Nguyen.

$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.

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