Coles plastic bags re-used to build carpark 

Coles and Victorian recycling organisations RED Group and Replas will install a concrete slab carpark made partly out of recycled soft plastics.

Presently under installation at Coles Horsham in regional Victoria, the carpark is the first commercial construction project in Australia to make use of Polyrok – a sustainable alternative to aggregate minerals used in concrete, such as stone.

Made from plastic bags and soft plastic packaging recovered from the REDcycle program, Polyrock has the potential to divert 105,000 tonnes of soft plastics from landfill each year, if used in commercial concrete projects across Australia, according to the venture partners.

Coles state construction manager Victoria Fiona Lloyd explained that this was the first time the product had been used in a commercial environment, “We know how important it is to support initiatives that help to close the loop with soft plastics.

“This project alone will help repurpose approximately 900,000 pieces of soft plastic, to be used in the carpark at the soon-to-be-competed Coles Horsham redevelopment.

“We’ve worked with RED Group, Replas and RMIT University throughout the whole development process and we’re excited to see how we can use this technology in more of our stores.”

Replas joint managing director Mark Jacobsen added that “Polyrok reduces the carbon footprint due to the reduced thermal mass it provides. This tackles the plastic problem and climate change all while being fit for purpose. If innovative products like this were adopted in all buildings and car parks, the collective reduction in greenhouse gasses would be enormous.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans said the welcomed the collaboration was welcome.

“There is huge potential and opportunity for infrastructure projects to help us build a more circular economy. This is why the Federal Government has prioritised the development of new national standards and guidelines to encourage the use of recycled content in roads and other projects.”

Coles is marking National Recycling Week with this and other initiatives including a new food waste diversion project in Queensland and new sustainability features at its latest supermarket in Chatswood, New South Wales.

Coles has worked with REDcycle since 2011, becoming the first major Australian supermarket to have REDcycle bins in every supermarket. Since the partnership began, Coles and its customers have diverted over 1.3 billion pieces of soft plastic from landfill.