The recycling, recovery and reprocessing of waste materials for use in new products like asphalt for roads is a great example of the action we are taking to support the healthier and greener futures of our community.
Adelaide Hills Council manages more than 590 kilometres of sealed road throughout the district and we are constantly engaging in maintenance and renewal of these roads.
As well as a commitment to providing safe roads we are very focussed on waste management and so for several years we have been running a program incorporating recycled products into the asphalt used to re-surface our local roads.
Technical Officer, Steve Smith (pictured), oversees the program and says it is both creating local demand for recyclable products and a fantastic example of what can be achieved by government working with industry.
“In the Adelaide Hills Council area for the 2019-2020 financial year, 21,673kg of mixed soft plastics were collected through the Redcycle program and 61kg of waste toner was collected through the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program,” Steve says.
“The volumes from these waste collection programs give us a target to work towards for incorporating recycled products into the asphalt for our roads.
“For the recent reseal of Wembley Avenue in Aldgate, approximately 114,000 plastic bag equivalents, waste toner from approximately 2,700 printer cartridges and about 27,000kgs (27tonnes) of recycled asphalt was used.”
Recycled asphalt product, or RAP as it is known in the industry, has been used in asphalt production for a number of years and it has reached the level where the standard inclusion in most asphalt mixes is in the order of 10-20% of the total weight.
With a strong commitment to driving demand for the circular economy, the Council has set targets for incorporating 30% recycled content into the materials used for roads and other construction in the district.
“We are trialling pushing 30% and more this year as we are confident of producing a high recycled material content asphalt that meets our intended asset life requirements,” Steve says.
“Using recycled asphalt has lots of benefits but the main one is that we are saving the energy and emissions needed to extract and transport virgin materials from the ground because historically old asphalt has gone to landfill and now, we are transforming a previous waste material into a high-quality product.
“Increasing the amount of recycled content in our asphalt in a carefully considered manner doesn’t have a negative effect on the performance of the asphalt and, in fact, incorporating the recycled plastic product enhances the performance characteristics and longevity of the surface.”
Council has partnered with local contractor AAA Asphalt who shares our passion for reducing our environmental impact and so our agreement has been developed to include some innovative options that align with our recycled content targets.
“This year the Council will be looking to lay around 19,000 square metres of recycled asphalt roads which equates to about 1,800 tonnes of recycled asphalt all up,” Steve says.
“It is rewarding to be part of this innovative partnership that has worked proactively to set up, meet and exceed ambitious targets while ensuring technical requirements for the asphalt are not compromised.”
The recycled asphalt program is just one of the measures that Council is implementing to make sure our community and our environment have a more sustainable future.