The new facility planned for construction in northern Tasmania will allow the state to build and repair more roads with construction products made from recycled materials.
Once it has been commissioned, the Downer Group plans to begin construction on an asphalt manufacturing facility in northern Tasmania as soon as 2023. Currently, Downer owns two asphalt manufacturing plants in Tasmania which produce thousands of tonnes of asphalt to build and maintain roads across the state.
At these facilities, Downer will produce Reconophalt, a road surfacing product, that incorporates materials that would otherwise end up in landfill. Such items include soft plastics, ground glass, recycled asphalt and road millings, and waste toner. Since 2018, Reconophalt production in Tasmania has diverted from landfill:
The equivalent of 6,476,000 plastic bags;
Toner from 189,000 toner cartridges;
2,629,000 glass bottles; and
960 tonnes of recycled asphalt paving material.
According to Marcus Stephens, Downer’s General Manager in Tasmania, the new plant will not only triple hourly production rates, but it will also deliver sustainable benefits to the community.
Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is also an important part of the puzzle through its collaboration with Close the Loop. Close the Loop produce an asphalt additive called TonerPlas from waste plastic bags and printer cartridges recycled through the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program, which is an important component of the Reconophalt mix.
Every tonne of TonerPlas uses plastic from 106,000 plastic bags and 2,500 waste toner cartridges. So far, almost 20,000 tonnes of TonerPlas have been produced, contributing to the construction of almost 3,500 kilometres of road.
This follows greater awareness of the benefits that can be derived by using recycled materials in new formats, particularly road surfacing. Development of stewardship schemes and resource recovery facilities, such as those by Close the Loop and Downer, demonstrate the value that can still be derived from products that have reached their end of life.
The components that contribute to programs like these can be sourced from both individual and commercial recycling efforts. Information on how to engage in recycling efforts that support these projects such as recycling your printer cartridges through Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, soft plastics through REDcycle and other materials like glass, plastic and metals through your kerbside service can be found at Recycling Near You and Business Recycling.