Rebound ready Victoria

With $1.1 billion of Federal funding in the pipeline for infrastructure projects across Victoria there is huge opportunity to develop and demonstrate construction industry leadership in sustainability.

Whether this is incorporating recycled products into asphalt and concrete or replacing steel with recycled alternatives, the suite of infrastructure projects underway and in planning for Victoria provides ample chance for innovation.

To reflect and promote some of the great work already being done by the sector, ISCA and Sustainability Victoria partnered to present the ‘Rebound Ready’ webinar, discussing the use of recycled material in infrastructure.

Across the hour, five industry leaders were invited to demonstrate their products and innovations that are championing recycled materials.

The presentation was split into sessions and followed by a question and answer section, so that attendees were able to get a good sense of how these products could apply to infrastructure projects.

Leading the pack was Tony Collister, Research, Development and Sustainability Manager for the product, Emesh by Fibercon.

Emesh fibres are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic off-cuts, which is repurposed into pellets and transformed by Fibercon into Emesh concrete fibres. This product replaces steel fibres or reinforcing mesh in concrete applications.

In its 2020 position paper, the World Steel Association reported the steel industry generates between seven and nine per cent of direct emissions from the global use of fossil fuel.

Collister gave attendees an example of a project completed by Hobsons Bay City Council using Emesh. The project laid around 1500 square metres of pathway, which reduced emissions by 90 per cent, compared to using steel.

The next product example was presented by Elaine Liu, Territory Sales Manager at Ramsetreid, the producers of Pave X.

Pave X is a plastic product range for footpath and residential pavement support, complying with Australian standards. The range is versatile for corrosive and non-corrosive environments to support the joints in concrete paths.

Zero material is sent to landfill during the creation of Pave X products, any extra material is remelted and reformed into new products. Further to this the Pave X range aims to help lengthen the life of pavements, contributing further to the circular economy.
Liu explained, creators Ramsetreid consistently look to explore the use of more recycled content in its component manufacturing. This includes its 100 per cent recycled bar chair and spacer range of products for concrete applications.

Major construction and building material supplier Hansen Australia were next. Brendan Liveris, Sustainability Manager at the company spoke about the unique recycling operations it offers through Alex Fraser.

Alex Fraser is Australia’s largest construction and demolition waste recycler, which repurposes around 40 per cent of kerbside bin waste glass that can’t easily be recycled. The demolition waste it collects gets used mainly as road base in major projects and the glass is crushed into sand and used in a wide range of applications.

Liveris detailed one of Hansen’s most recent projects in which the company successfully laid concrete with glass in the mix, through a partnership with Sustainability Victoria and the University of Melbourne.

The final two speakers covered their experiences in working towards environmentally sustainable concrete.

In 2019, the Guardian reported that if concrete were a country it would be the third largest emitter in the world. The next two presentations demonstrated how the concrete industry is recognising its challenges and progressing innovations to reduce emissions.

David Hocking, National Technical Manager at Boral, detailed the company’s latest innovation, ENVISIA Concrete.

ENVISIA is a lower carbon concrete Boral have created that does not compromise performance.

Hocking explained Boral is also working with RMIT and Whitehorse City Council to trial concrete that incorporates recycled plastics in different sizes. In the Western and Northern suburbs of Melbourne the company is also working with higher supplementary cement replacements in pavements to reduce emissions.

Boral has also been working on blended and engineered glass sand. Hocking presented an example the company had created which pairs crushed glass with tunnel spoil and can use 5000 glass bottles per tonne of material.

To close off the innovation presentations Paul Rocker, National Materials Technology Manager at Holcim presented on the company’s findings from the development of Australia’s first ready-mix concrete Environmental Product Declaration (EPD).

Holcim is another major supplier of aggregate, concrete and concrete pipe products in Australia and the company has signed up to a net zero pledge, to be achieved by 2030.

The low carbon initiative was started at Holcim around two years ago which lead to the creation of its ViroDecs range. This is the first range of EPD’s for ready mix concrete in the Australian market. The mixes cover all of the company’s normal class concrete products.

The EPD found using the ViroDecs Triple Blend product could save 34,000 tonnes of emissions on a 100,000 cubic metre building project, compared to its Australian average. So far Holcim has supplied 22,626 tonnes of carbon neutral ViroDecs concrete to the Inland Rail project.

Each of the presentations were a real celebration of the steps being taken to implement sustainable initiatives in all types of infrastructure projects, not just in Victoria but across Australia.

Infrastructure contributes around 70 per cent of Australia’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Issues Paper: Reshaping Infrastructure for a net zero emissions future; a paper published in partnership with the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA), ClimateWorks Australia and the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC).

These companies set a real example as to how the construction industry can reduce emissions and make purposeful products out of waste materials. Most importantly these are just some of the products making a different in infrastructure construction, we can only hope to see more of these innovations in future.

Full recording of the webinar is available here.


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