Soft plastics and toner cartridges turned into asphalt additive
Recycling innovator Close the Loop has unveiled an upgraded manufacturing facility that could divert two-thirds of Australia’s 300,000 tonnes of waste soft plastics sent to local landfill annually.
The new manufacturing line in Melbourne will produce TonerPlas — an asphalt additive that contains the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, toner from more than 12,000 recycled cartridges and 168,000 glass bottles in every kilometre of two-lane road. In conjunction with Downer, roads featuring TonerPlas have already been laid in Melbourne and Sydney this year.
“Close the Loop has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years,” said Close the Loop Chairman Craig Devlin. “Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors, including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries.
“TonerPlas is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products. The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65%, meaning longer-lasting roads at a cost-competitive price. It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”
Devlin said the opening of the line will enable the company to produce the additive on a commercial scale.
“At full capacity, our new manufacturing line provides us with the ability to produce enough TonerPlas in a year to pave a two-lane road from Sydney to Melbourne,” he said. “That would contain the equivalent of 530 million recycled plastic bags, 168 million recycled glass bottles and 12 million recycled toner cartridges. That’s more than 200,000 tonnes of soft plastics that currently go to landfill in Australia.”
He added that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and re-use of products — a circular economy.
“Our new manufacturing capacity to re-use soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do. However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry and divert problematic waste streams from landfill. Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge, especially as plastic bags account for less than 5% of all waste soft plastics.”
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