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Fri September 17 2021

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Plastic bags to be recycled in road construction project

29 May 18 Plastic bags and packaging are to be incorporated in a road being built as a trial project in Australia.

Soft plastics from approximately 200,000 plastic bags and items of packaging will be used, together with the equivalent of 63,000 glass bottles. Along with the soft plastics and glass, toner from more than 4,500 used printer cartridges and 50t of recycled asphalt have also been repurposed to create the 250t of asphalt needed to construct the road in Craigieburn in the north of Melbourne.

Downer and Hume City Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group.

Downer executive general manager road services Dante Cremasco said: “Together with our customer Hume City Council and our partners, we have proven that with thought leadership and a determined effort to make a positive difference, we have set a new benchmark in our industry when it comes to sustainability by creating new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling product, not pushing waste.”

He added: “What is also pleasing to see is that this sustainable, cost-competitive road has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic.”

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Hume mayor Geoff Porter said the council was proud to join Downer and its partners in the trial. “Hume City Council is very proud to be home to Australia’s first road which sees soft plastics and glass diverted from landfills and repurposed to create local roads,” he said. “We look forward to monitoring the trial of this recycled asphalt and how the new surface performs over time.”

Downer partnered very closely with Close the Loop and Red Group to tailor waste products such as soft plastics to suit a road construction application. “Our close partnership with Downer and RED Group has allowed us to work collaboratively to improve the way we design and manufacture sustainable outcomes for waste that has meaningful uses,” said  Nerida Mortlock, general manager of Close the Loop Australia.

RED Group director Elizabeth Kasell said that the project “demonstrates a great step toward a circular system, where soft plastic packaging recovered through the Redcycle program, and other materials previously destined for landfill, can be used as a resource for Australian roads.”

Sustainability Victoria was also a partner in the initiative, supporting Close the Loop and Downer with more than AU$100,000 to develop specialist equipment and help with trial costs.

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