Alex Fraser has developed a world-first process to recycle more than 150,000 tonnes of glass fines being stockpiled or landfilled in Melbourne every year.
In a Victoria first trial, a two-hundred-metre long concrete footpath made with 199,000 recycled glass and plastic bottles has been laid in Hoppers Crossing.
The new concrete, developed by Sustainability Victoria and Swinburne University of Technology, was funded through the Victorian Government’s Research, Development and Demonstration grant as part of the $4.5 million Resource Recovery Market Development Program (RRMDP).
RRMDP was announced last year and aims to develop Victorian markets for recyclable waste, boost research and increase the use of recovered glass fines and flexible plastics in products and processing techniques.
The Swinburne University of Technology research team worked with recycled content supplier PolyTrade, Wyndham City Council and concrete contractor MetroPlant to develop the material.
The aggregate contains 2600 kilograms of shredded recycled plastics between four and eight millimetres and 5500 kilograms of glass fines —leftover glass particles typically between three and eight millimetres in size.
The glass fines and plastic are bound directly into the concrete through a technique similar to that used for traditional aggregate materials.
Approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics and over 60,000 tonnes of glass fines, which are too small to be recycled by standard process, end up in Victorian landfills every year.
Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said the development of innovative new products helps encourage government to invest in building better waste systems that divert materials from landfill, consume fewer natural resources and reduce carbon emissions.
“Sustainability Victoria has been thinking circular for a long time, we can create more value from our waste by designing for reuse, keeping products circulating in the economy at their greatest value for as long as possible.
“A circular economy requires commitment from industry, government and the community, which is why we apply the principles to our program design and delivery,” Mr Krpan said.
The footpath will be closely monitored to confirm durability and performance, and if, or how, any plastics could potentially be released from the solid bound pavement.
The aggregate blend meets required strength and standards for footpath construction, with tests showing similar wear resistance to control samples.
Information from the project will be captured and used to improve recycled concrete technology to inform future projects.
Sustainability Victoria will continue to work with councils, Local Government Victoria and the Municipal Association of Victoria to increase the uptake of recycled content in infrastructure.
Townsville City Council’s Waste Services Team Manager Matthew McCarthy tells Waste Management Review about its technologically advanced materials recovery facility and use of recycled glass in its public works.