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Soft plastics asphalt plant opens in Lake Macquarie

A $5 million asphalt plant has been opened in Teralba, Lake Macquarie, to allow plastic bags, recycled glass and printer toner to be used in the construction of new roads in the area.

In early June, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser opened asphalt plant in Teralba, which will allow for the production of thousands of tonnes of sustainable road and pavement materials for the Hunter Region and Central Coast each year.

One of the key products to be manufactured at the site will be Reconophalt, a road-base alternative that uses processed soft plastics such as shopping bags and chip wrappers to act as a glue that bonds and waterproofs roads.

The soft plastics are collected through the RedCycle program, which has collection bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, while waste toner will come from the national Planet Ark recycling initiative.

The plant, run by Downer, is capable of producing a wide range of products including asphalt containing recycled tyre rubber and Reconophalt – a product that contains high recycled content from materials such as soft plastics, glass, toner and reclaimed road.

According to Downer, Reconophalt contains the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and 12,500 toner cartridges.

Reconophalt has enhanced properties of improved strength and resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic.

Fraser said the opening of the facility has bolstered Lake Macquarie’s reputation for encouraging and embracing sustainable businesses and practices.

“In the past 12 months in Lake Macquarie, we’ve seen the introduction of recycled glass sand in council’s civil works, a trial of recycled materials in concrete foot paths and now this next step in our war on waste.

“I congratulate Downer on investing in new methods to close the loop on recycled materials.”

Downer executive general manager for road services, Dante Cremasco, said the use of recycled materials reduced the requirement for “virgin” alternatives by one-third.

Testing of the new Reconophalt material showed it lasted longer and was less prone to deformation than traditional forms of asphalt.