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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Ejecting for efficiency: Wastech Engineering

After Citywide developed an operational efficiency plan to boost productivity and payloads, It engaged Wastech Engineering for a new fleet fleet of Clearline Waste Transfer Trailers.

When the City of Melbourne announced it would fast-track the delivery of its Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy in early August, it illustrated a commitment to growing the state’s resource recovery capacity.

Similarly, the Victorian Government allocated $35 million to waste and resource recovery via the state budget in May. Both initiatives highlight a pledge to develop more efficient waste processing capabilities across the state.

Increasing productivity via efficient processes is a motivation shared by Melbourne City Council subsidiary Citywide, which recently revised its operational efficiency plan.   

Travis Martin, Citywide Commercial Waste Division Manager, says while investment in resource recovery facilities is critical, so too is streamlining operations at less glamorous but equally important waste transfer stations.

Being entrusted with the waste management of Victoria’s capital city, and the second largest in the country, highlights the scope and scale of Citywide’s operations. It similarly underscores the importance of finding the right equipment supplier.

Travis says to manage this scale, Citywide and Wastech Engineering developed a symbiotic relationship.

“Citywide and Wastech have worked together in many capacities over the years, with Wastech providing ongoing equipment maintenance and support at our transfer station and working with us in waste and recycling process innovation,” Travis says.

“In the most recent instance, we informed Wastech that we needed new waste transfer trailers to boost operations, and were directed to its Clearline range.”

Travis, who has worked in the waste industry for more than 30 years, says the Citywide Transfer Station and Resource Recovery Centre is the largest of its kind in Victoria, and one of the five largest in Australia.

“Located in West Melbourne, the centre provides waste management services to various local government and commercial clients, meaning effective transport arrangements are key,” Travis says.

“We process multiple waste streams at the facility, largely consisting of municipal waste, residential, commercial and industrial waste and multiple recycling streams such as paper, cardboard, steel and organics.”

According to Sustainability Victoria, over 12.8 million tonnes of waste was managed by the state’s waste and resource recovery system in 2017. In the same year, City of Melbourne residents generated 40,000 tonnes.

To keep up with accelerating service demands, Travis says Citywide recently developed and implemented an operational efficiency plan in order to lift productivity and payloads.

“With ever-increasing volumes of waste generated in and around Melbourne’s CBD – that needs to be processed through the Citywide transfer station – we needed to boost efficiency and invest in new operational and transport equipment,” Travis says.

“One facet of the plan was engaging Wastech for a new range of Clearline Waste Transfer Trailers, with an operational model of owner drivers and a drop and go system for productivity.”

Citywide already owned a number of Clearline trailers, but wanted to upgrade to the newer model. Travis says his previous experiences with Wastech made him confident the new trailer model would meet expectations and application requirements.

The Clearline Waste Transfer Trailer’s rolled wall body design provides durability and integral strength, which Travis says is critical to withstanding the high piercing forces present during compaction of industrial and commercial waste.

The trailer also incorporates the use of high-tensile steel plate in the body to reduce tare weight and increase payloads.

Citywide uses the Clearline trailers to transport waste from its central transfer station in West Melbourne to various landfill sites across the city.

“The Clearline’s smooth internal design, and hydraulic eject blade, safely and efficiently push the waste load out of the body at landfill,” Travis says.

“The full eject feature reduces each load by 20 minutes, equating to one extra load per shift.”

According to Travis, the Clearline trailers are fitted with Elphinstone weighing systems that provide 99 per cent weight accuracy. He adds that as the trailers are mass managed, the weighing systems can be used to full effect.

“The trailers have also reduced volumes at the transfer station, which makes the customer onsite experience quick and easy,” he says.

Wastech’s transfer trailers feature full cab controls to facilitate operator friendly conditions and heightened safety, as operators aren’t required to exit the vehicle when unloading.

“The previous Clearline Waste Transfer Trailer design was great, and worked well under harsh conditions, but the rear doors and hydraulic ejection of the new model really lifts ease of operations,” Travis says.

“As the last piece of Citywide’s operational efficiency plan, the delivery of Wastech’s trailers significantly increased our transfer station operations.”

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Melbourne fast-tracks waste strategy

The City of Melbourne will fast-track the delivery of its Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy and bring investment in infrastructure forward.

Following SKM’s decision to no longer accept waste material, the city has been forced to send 45 tonnes of recycling to landfill each day.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the city, and its subsidiary Citywide, will run an independent feasibility study into establishing a large-scale recycling centre in Greater Melbourne.

“As a matter of urgency, our waste collection business Citywide will work with independent experts to look at the best way to create a specialised recycling facility in Victoria that will be stable and sustainable,” Ms Capp said.

“The study will consider the potential size and location for a new facility, as well as the number of municipalities it could service. It would also consider the level of recycled material required for it to be viable and potential markets for recycled materials.”

Ms Capp said the city would also investigate new ways to reduce contamination throughout the municipality.

“We want to stop recyclables going to landfill as soon as possible and deliver long-term improvements for our residents and businesses,” Ms Capp said.

“We are going to increase the number of shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city.”

Ms Capp said the city is also examining international best practices and will run an expression of interest period for technology usable in Melbourne’s inner city laneways.

“This could include using everything from mini-compactor bins, specialised vehicles and collection of source separated materials such as glass, organics, paper and cardboard,” Ms Capp said.

“Ultimately we need to work towards the model used by many European countries where recycling streams are collected and processed separately.”

According to Ms Capp, the issue cannot be tackled by individual municipalities.

“The City of Melbourne will be working with other councils, the Victorian Government and the community to achieve long-term change,” Ms Capp said.

City of Melbourne Environment Chair Cathy Oke said local residents and businesses also needed to play their part to reduce contamination in waste streams.

“Rather than send our recycling overseas, we will examine the feasibility and cost of preparing materials for manufacturing use here in Victoria,” Ms Oke said.

“We need to provide a cleaner product for our recycling industry to return to a more sustainable and stable footing.”

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