First road construction in Australia using 'upcycled' waste

  • 27 Jun
  • 2 min

Striving to end the practice of sending waste to landfill sites, the Melbourne municipal authorities are now recycling thrown-away materials to help make concrete – an environmentally-friendly way to produce top-quality road surfacing.

Every year, over 300,000 tons of plastic waste material is sent to landfill rubbish depositories in Australia, inevitably adding to environmental pollution. The Melbourne municipal authorities have decided to address this problem by teaming up with Close the Loop, a company which specialises in sustainable development and the circular economy, to implement an innovative upcycling solution. By recycling the plastic polyesters and used toner from digital laser printer cartridges, Close the Loop has created an additive, which goes to make up 20% of a new-formula asphalt. In this way, every kilometre of road constructed enables the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and used toner from some 12,500 printer cartridges to be recycled, thus easing the burden on nature. But the environmental angle is not the only advantage. This type of road surfacing is actually claimed to be of higher quality and to deliver higher performance. It holds together better than standard asphalt and is more resistant not only to the wear and tear caused by vehicles but also to the high temperatures and storms that are a significant feature of the Australian climate. A first section of 300 metres of road is now under construction in the town of Craigieburn, in the suburbs of Melbourne and there are plans to roll out this environmentally-responsible solution on a large scale.

By Arnaud Pagès