Recycled First, a new initiative from the Victorian Government, is set to boost the use of recycled and reused materials in construction projects.
According to Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, Recycled First brings a uniform approach to the existing ‘ad hoc’ use of recycled products on major transport infrastructure projects.
“We’re paving a greener future for Victoria’s infrastructure, turning waste into vital materials for our huge transport agenda and getting rubbish out of landfills,” Ms Allan said.
“Recycled First will boost the demand for reused materials right across our construction sector – driving innovation in sustainable materials and changing the way we think about waste products.”
The program will incorporate recycled and reused materials that meet existing standards for road and rail projects – with recycled aggregates, glass, plastic, timber, steel, ballast, crushed concrete, crushed brick, crumb rubber, reclaimed asphalt pavement and organics taking precedence over brand new materials.
“Companies interested in delivering major transport infrastructure projects will be required to demonstrate how they will prioritise recycled and reused materials, while maintaining compliance and quality standards,” Ms Allan said.
Additionally, contractors will need to report on the types and volumes of recycled products used.
The policy will not set mandatory minimum requirements or targets, Ms Allan said. Instead, a project-by-project approach will allow contractors to liaise with recycled materials suppliers to determine if there are adequate supplies of the necessary products for their project.
“Work is already underway with current construction partners to ensure more recycled content is being used on major projects, in addition to the new Recycled First requirements,” Ms Allan said.
“The M80 Ring Road, Monash Freeway and South Gippsland Highway upgrades will use more than 20,000 tonnes of recycled materials, and 190 million glass bottles will be used in surfaces on the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade.”
According to Ms Allan, recycled demolition material was also used to build extra lanes along 24 kilometres of the Tullamarine Freeway, as well as the Monash Freeway and M80 Ring Road.
“The state government is also reusing materials created by its own projects, with 14,000 tonnes of soil excavated from the Metro Tunnel site in Parkville now being used in pavement layers on roads in Point Cook,” she said.
“This material weighs as much as 226 E-class Melbourne trams and would otherwise have gone to landfill.”
Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy has dubbed the program an ‘accelerator for Victoria’s circular economy’.
“To have the state government strongly encourage the use of recycled content in these projects demonstrates very powerful support for resource recovery,” Mr Murphy said.
“We know that a strong market for recycled materials supports resource recovery, which diverts more material away from landfill and reduces stockpiling. It also preserves valuable natural resources which are increasingly difficult to access and costly to transport.”
According to Mr Murphy, Recycled First provides clarity for decision makers on Victoria’s Big Build, which includes more than 100 major road and rail projects.
“Many Big Build projects are located close to Melbourne, making recycled material from metropolitan areas the ideal supply choice. The use of locally sourced recycled content substantially reduces heavy vehicle use, which reduces congestion and carbon emissions,” he said.
“Victoria has long led the way when it comes to using recycled material in infrastructure. Having assessed other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas, I know Victoria is the envy of many. Many local governments are making good progress, and this initiative sets a great example.”