Plastic roads head west

Article image - Plastic roads head west SAs first road made from recycled plastics and glass.

The first South Australian (SA) road built with soft plastics and glass at Happy Valley in the City of Onkaparinga has seen plastic from approximately 139,000 plastic bags and packaging and 39,750 glass bottle equivalents diverted from landfill.

Downer and City of Onkaparinga have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies, Close the Loop and RED Group, to set this new benchmark in sustainability.

Along with soft plastics and glass, toner from approximately 3200 used printer cartridges and more than 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 265 tonnes of asphalt used to construct the road along Caribbean Crescent in Happy Valley.

Downer’s Executive General Manager Road Services, Dante Cremasco, said, “It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.

“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.”

Mayor Erin Thompson, said this is an exciting South Australian first and demonstrates Council’s commitment to working with industry on innovative and cost-effective solutions to a changing operating environment.

“The City of Onkaparinga manages and maintains over 1350km of sealed roads and works hard to ensure they’re well maintained as cost effectively as possible and in line with leading asset management principles.

“We also collect approximately 14,000 tonnes of recyclables every year.”

The last 12 months had presented councils with significant challenges, as well as emerging opportunities, Mayor Thompson said.

“Creating local demand for recyclables products is one such opportunity and this is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by government working with industry.”

Downer partnered closely with Close the Loop to innovatively tailor waste products such as soft plastics to suit a road construction application.

General Manager of Close the Loop Australia, Nerida Mortlock, said, “Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnership with RED Group has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. 

“We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a SA road.”