Australia can significantly boost its domestic recycling by replacing virgin resources with recycled materials in road construction, according to a new report from the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).
Undertaken by MRA Consulting for ACOR, the report shows that by using recovered soft plastics, secondary glass cullets and passenger tyre crumb in asphalt and/or road base, Australia could double the amount of soft plastic domestically recycled, increase tyre recycling by 50 per cent and help eliminate unused glass cullet stockpiles.
According to ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel, roads are Australia’s largest single asset, and by building them with recycled materials, Australia can deliver the goal of domestically sustainable recycling.
“Our message to governments who build roads is; use recycled content to keep valuable stuff out of tips, deliver value for money to taxpayers and generate more jobs,” Mr Shmigel said.
Mr Shmigel said the report examined 12 roads including Sydney’s Westconnex, the Bruce Highway Upgrade in Queensland and the CityLink Tunnel in Melbourne.
“In reality, some 10,000 kilometers of new roads are being constructed; so regular use of recycled material in roads according to a new standard would be a road-led recycling revolution for regional jobs and environmental benefits like greenhouse gas reduction,” Mr Shmigel said.
“It’s important to recognise that recycled roads – compared to virgin roads – are cost competitive and comparable if not better on quality and longevity.”
Mr Shmigel said 11 of the 12 projects modelled in the report are partly funded by the Federal Government, which can require recycled content as part of funding agreements.
“That’s a great opportunity for our ‘Recycling PM’ to further deliver on his vision,” Mr Shmigel said.
“The choice is before us. Drive recycled roads into a better economic and environmental future, or drive old roads straight to the tip.”
Current recycling: 627,000 tonnes or 57 per cent
Additional tonnes from 12 recycled roads: 1.34 million tonnes
Current recycling: 89,900 tonnes or 4.5 per cent
Additional tonnes from 12 recycled roads: 104,500 tonnes
Current recycling: 328,000 tonnes or two per cent
Additional tonnes from 12 recycled roads: 174,000 tonnes