Waste Management Review explores the appetite, barriers and opportunities for boosting the use of recycled content material in infrastructure and civil works projects.
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.
Councils must band together to foster a viable domestic recycling market, writes Helen Sloan, Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Program Manager.
Leveraging collaborative purchasing power, the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) has set a new annual target of recycling 45 million glass bottles.
According to a SSROC statement, 11 member councils have unanimously signed a memorandum of understanding, which sets out how they will work together to develop a framework for regional procurement of recycled material in infrastructure.
“Australia’s current domestic markets for recycled materials and the infrastructure needed to process them into a clean, usable form is woefully inadequate,” the statement reads.
“With the Council of Australian Governments set to ban the export of recyclable materials – following restrictions on Australian exports due to high levels of contamination – developing domestic markets for these materials is crucial to avoid stockpiling and landfilling of valuable resources.”
SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said SSROC’s approach to joint regional procurement will create sufficient demand to influence market development, beyond what individual councils can achieve.
“Not only will it allow councils to procure safe, affordable, and high-quality materials, but this model can be rolled out across the Sydney metropolitan area and indeed the entire state,” Ms Dougall said.
Member councils will initially focus on introducing more glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement into road construction. Following which, they will begin investigating other materials such as plastic, tyre crumb and textiles.
“Since 2018, SSROC has led a series of workshops and collaborations with engineers, procurement experts and specification bodies, to develop the recognised performance standards for adopting a range of recycled materials in civil works,” the statement reads.
“This has enabled this innovative process to be done in a safe and cost-effective way.”
NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean praised the SSROC for their commitment to tackling waste in NSW.
“We need all levels of government and industry working together and embracing initiatives like this,” Mr Kean said.
“We look forward to working closely with councils and industry so that together we safeguard the future of NSW.”
The 11 member councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Georges River, Inner West, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, and Woollahra.