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This Melbourne Council Is Turning Plastic Waste Into Roads

In an Aussie-first, soft plastics destined for landfill will be used to create a more sustainable type of asphalt
By Libby Curran
May 30, 2018
By Libby Curran
May 30, 2018

In the global push for a healthier planet, we've seen some pretty creative recycling initiatives, with single-use plastic bottles transformed into Adidas kicks, discarded chewing gum used to make sneaker soles, and all sorts of other genius stuff being dreamt up in between.

Now, a clever project happening closer to home will see a massive haul of soft plastics, glass bottles and printer cartridges recycled into 250 tonnes of asphalt and used to construct a road in Craigieburn, a suburb in Melbourne's north.

The Aussie-first trial is the result of a collaboration between Hume City Council, infrastructure services company Downer, and local recycling organisations Red Group and Close the Loop, and it could be a game-changer for sustainability. As well as being cheaper to make and a whole lot easier on the environment, the asphalt is expected to be more durable, longer lasting and better suited to heavy traffic than its regular plastic-free counterparts.

This particular stretch of road alone will save around 200,000 plastic bags, 4500 printer cartridges and the equivalent of 63,000 glass bottles from landfill. As Red Group Director Elizabeth Kasell explains, "it demonstrates a great step toward a circular system, where soft plastic packaging recovered through the REDcycle Program, and other materials previously destined for landfill, can be used as a resource for Australian roads".

While the major supermarket chains will phase out plastic bags from next month, we still use a hell of a lot of plastic — so it would be great to see this being put into necessary infrastructure rather than adding to landfill.

Published on May 30, 2018 by Libby Curran

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