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Victorian government invests $1.6m in projects to improve recycling infrastructure

A total of $1.6 million is being invested in nine projects to develop and trial uses for recycled glass, plastic, paper and e-waste in Victoria.

Announced by Sustainability Victoria in early October, the funding from the Research, Development and Demonstration grants program will focus on developing new uses and technology for materials recovered from household and commercial recycling.

There are also projects that will test new extraction technologies to improve the recovery of precious materials from e-waste such as solar panels and batteries.

Sustainability Victoria’s interim CEO Carl Muller said Victoria needs proven recycled content products and markets for those products to make recycling viable.

“This will build confidence and market demand.

“Research findings from the funded projects will inform industry of the opportunities to use recovered materials in manufacturing and infrastructure and will support purchasing of products using recycled materials,” Muller said.

The projects include trialling recycled crushed glass in asphalt on local roads, in collaboration with Brimbank City Council and VicRoads. The Australian Road Research Board will receive $200,000 for this project.

Sustainability Victoria stated that more than 250,000 tonnes of glass is recovered from households and business in Victoria every year.

Several councils in the state have recently started, or committed to, providing households with ‘glass only’ bins in order to reduce contamination in mixed recycling bins and to easily collect glass separately. This includes, a commitment by the Moyne Shire Council to introduce a fourth kerbside bin for glass collection across the whole shire; and a current ‘glass only’ bin trial in the Macedon Ranges Shire Council jurisdiction, involving 650 households.

In September, Moyne Shire mayor Mick Wolfe said the council had decided to roll out a glass recycling bin across the shire as glass accounted for about 40 per cent of recyclables in yellow kerbside bins.

Wolfe said, with facilities that are able to take the glass, crush it and use it as a substitute for sand in road making, separating the glass is not only better for the environment, but also better for the economy.

Within the nine projects that are receiving funding, Swinburne University will receive $192,950 to evaluate the use of recovered glass, plastics and crushed concrete in the foundations of railway structures, in partnership with Melbourne Trains Metro, Level Crossing Removal Project and Rail Projects Victoria.

Currently, railway foundations are made of quarried virgin materials. This project has the potential to create a sustainable, long-term market for recovered materials such as plastic and glass that could be processed more easily locally.

Muller said the environmental benefits of using recycled content products and materials include reducing the need for resources and reducing production of high energy products such as concrete and curbing greenhouse gas emissions from production.