Recycled plastics and glass pave the road ahead in the ACT

Wednesday, 06 March, 2019


Downer and Roads ACT have partnered with Close the Loop, a resource recovery and recycling company based in Melbourne, to repurpose soft plastics and glass to make asphalt.

Setting a new benchmark in sustainability, roads built at Gungahlin and Casey in the ACT will divert plastic from approximately 619,000 plastic bags and packaging items, and the equivalent of 123,000 glass bottles from landfill. In addition to soft plastics and glass, toner from approximately 15,100 used printer cartridges and more than 210 tonnes of recycled asphalt have been repurposed to create close to 1000 tonnes of road surface material.

The recycled asphalt has been used to resurface the roundabout on Gundaroo Drive between Pallin Street and Hollingsworth Street in Gungahlin. Downer Executive General Manager of Road Services Dante Cremasco said, “The milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled or as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“Together with Roads ACT and our partners, we have proven that with thought leadership and the tenacity to make a positive difference, we have set a new benchmark in the Territory 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 products, not pushing waste,” Cremasco said.

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost-competitive road product called Reconophalt has enhanced properties of improved strength and resistance to deformation making the road last longer and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Cremasco added.

Downer partnered closely with Close the Loop to tailor waste products to a road surface application. Close the Loop Australia General Manager Nerida Mortlock commented, “This superior asphalt product demonstrates the many benefits of the circular economy. Our collaborative partnerships with Downer and others have enabled us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable new products using valuable waste materials destined for landfill.

“Reconophalt also provides a practical use for waste soft plastic — one of Australia’s most significant problematic waste streams. While steps have been taken to minimise single-use plastic bags, soft plastic is still prevalent in everything from bread and produce bags to pallet wrapping. The innovative asphalt product re-uses this plastic to create not just a new product, but a superior product,” Mortlock added.

Image courtesy of Downer.

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