Next time you are out driving on the roads around Canberra, take a moment to consider what we have incorporated into the construction and maintenance of our local roads.
In the last 12 months we have included:
(reseal and asphalt)
(roadbase and road shoulders)
(roadbase and paths)
We are also looking at other waste products to include in asphalt in the future, such as glass or soft plastics.
We are also saving energy by producing material at lower temperatures and using plant based fuels in vehicles.
In the past we used virgin material for the construction and maintenance of our local roads but our natural resources are limited, so we must now think of a road as a quarry that can be dug up and made into new roads. The treatments we place today must be able to be reused again in the future.
In addition to road pavement we also recycle the aluminium signs, steel sign poles and guard barriers when they are damaged or reach the end of their life.
Water recycling practices are used in stormwater maintenance and non-potable water is used in road construction to save drinking water.
These initiatives all have the potential to reduce the amount of material we send to landfill and to provide a viable alternative to using virgin material on our roads.
The future has some exciting developments such as:
We are currently trialling a new type of asphalt made from a range of recycled materials. Unlike previous trials, this new asphalt product uses a mixture of recycled products from a number of different sources. These include soft plastics, used printer toner cartridges, crushed glasses and reclaimed asphalt materials. Every tonne of this innovative asphalt product will contain approximately 800 plastic bags, 300 glass bottles, 18 used printer cartridges and 250 kilograms of reclaimed asphalt.
This method of recycling has an economic benefit as there is no need to purchase as much new aggregates but it is also better for the environment as it reuses existing materials that might otherwise end up in landfill. Along with the environmental benefits of removing these products from the waste stream and reduced cost, the new asphalt product is also used to create a safe and long lasting road surface as it is designed to be stronger and more resistent to deformation.
The first trial is being conducted on the roundabout on Gundaroo Drive between Pallin Street and Hollingsworth Street.