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Using recycled first for greener transport infrastructure

Victoria will soon be home to some of Australia’s most sustainable infrastructure, as the Victorian Government rolls out the Recycled First policy to boost the use of recycled and reused materials in construction projects.

Victoria’s Big Build is delivering more than 100 major road and rail projects across the state, which provides an opportunity to drive significant change in the reuse of construction waste material.

The Big Build is already creating more than 15,000 local jobs – and the Recycled First program will boost employment even further.

Recycled First will build new requirements into future projects under the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, bringing a uniform approach to the use of recycled products and driving innovation in sustainable materials.

The program will incorporate recycled and reused materials that meet existing standards for road and rail projects – with recycled aggregates, glass, plastic, timber, steel, ballast, crushed concrete, crushed brick, crumb rubber, reclaimed asphalt pavement and organics taking precedence over brand new materials.

Companies interested in delivering major transport infrastructure projects will be required to demonstrate how they will prioritise recycled and reused materials while maintaining compliance and quality standards.

Coupled with the Extractive Resources Strategy – Helping Victoria Grow – to secure access to critical construction materials – using new high-quality recycled alternatives for our major projects will drive lower-cost infrastructure by reducing reliance on raw materials.

Work is already underway with current construction partners to ensure more recycled content is being used on major projects, in addition to the new Recycled First requirements.

The M80 Ring Road, Monash Freeway and South Gippsland Highway upgrades will use more than 20,000 tonnes of recycled materials, and 190 million glass bottles will be used in surfaces on the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade.

Recycled demolition material was also used to build extra lanes along 24 kilometres of the Tullamarine Freeway as well as the Monash Freeway and M80 Ring Road.

The Victorian Government is also reusing materials created by its own projects, with 14,000 tonnes of soil excavated from the Metro Tunnel site in Parkville now being used in pavement layers on roads in Point Cook. This material weighs as much as 226 E-class Melbourne trams and would otherwise have gone to landfill.

Almost 56 million tyres are discarded nationally every year, but just 10 per cent are recycled. Researchers have started trialling the use of crumbed tyre rubber on busy metropolitan roads, with the asphalt to be tested on a kilometre and a half section of East Boundary Road in Bentleigh East.

What is Recycled First?

The Victorian Government is committed to optimising the use of recycled and reused Victorian materials across all rail and road construction through the Recycled First policy.

Bidders on all future major transport infrastructure projects will be required to optimise the use of recycled materials, as part of the Government’s Big Build.

Recycled First is an initiative of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, which will identify ways for the Victorian Government to use more recycled materials and build purposely greener infrastructure, starting with major transport infrastructure projects.

The policy brings a uniform approach to the existing ‘ad hoc’ use of recycled products on major transport infrastructure projects, and aims to drive greater use of these materials, encourage innovation and develop demand for recycled materials.

Recycled First will apply to the use of recycled and reused materials that meet existing standards and specifications for road and rail projects. It will see optimised use of recycled aggregates, glass, plastic, timber, steel, ballast, crushed brick, crumb rubber, reclaimed asphalt pavement and organics, prioritised over the use of virgin materials.

The policy will not set mandatory minimum requirements or targets. Instead, a project by project approach will allow contractors to liaise with recycled materials suppliers to determine if there are adequate supplies of the necessary products for their project.

The Recycled First policy requires that for these projects:

  • bidders must demonstrate how they will optimise the use of recycled materials
  • contractors must report on the types and volumes of recycled products they used.

Recycled First requirements will be built into future projects across the Big Build, which is delivering a $70 billion infrastructure program to ensure Victoria’s transport network can meet future demand.

This is just the start of several initiatives designed to help Victorian businesses to grow in new ways and create high-value jobs in advanced recycling and construction technologies.

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