News, Waste & Resource Recovery

Recycled First boosts reuse demand across construction

The use of recycled and reused materials in construction projects is about to be advanced by Recycled First, a new initiative from the Victorian Government.

Transport Infrastructure Minister, Jacinta Allan explained that Recycled First would bring a uniform approach to the existing ad hoc use of recycled products on major transport infrastructure projects.

Recycled First will boost the demand for reused materials right across our construction sector – driving innovation in sustainable materials and changing the way we think about waste products,” she said.

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,” Allan added.

Additionally, contractors will need to report on the types and volumes of recycled products used.

No mandatory requirements

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.

“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,” she explained.

“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 state 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,” she said.

“This material weighs as much as 226 E-class Melbourne trams and would otherwise have gone to landfill.”

Accelerator for circular economy

Alex Fraser managing director, Peter Murphy described the program as an accelerator for Victoria’s circular economy.

“To have the state government strongly encourage the use of recycled content in these projects demonstrates very powerful support for resource recovery,” Murphy said.

“We know that a strong market for recycled materials supports resource recovery, which diverts more material away from landfill and reduces stockpiling. It also preserves valuable natural resources which are increasingly difficult to access and costly to transport.”

Murphy added that Recycled First provides clarity for decision makers on Victoria’s Big Build, which includes more than 100 major road and rail projects.

“Many Big Build projects are located close to Melbourne, making recycled material from metropolitan areas the ideal supply choice. The use of locally sourced recycled content substantially reduces heavy vehicle use, which reduces congestion and carbon emissions.”