New trial in shire of use of recycled materials in roadworks

Sutherland Shire Council has trialled another type of road pavement that uses recycled material.

The trial was conducted on Bundeena Drive in Royal National Park and, as part of the project, the road was widened from six metres to 10 metres, allowing for the inclusion of a 1.8 metre wide cycle lane on either side of the road.

Sutherland Shire is the first council in Sydney to use foamed asphalt pavement, which involves using specialist machinery to remove and recycle the existing road surface.

Contractor, Stabilised Pavements Australia proposed the option as part of a tender.

A council spokesman said foamed asphalt methodology had been trialled by a select number of councils around Australia, but had been used more extensively in the US, the UK, Germany and other parts of Europe.

"Among the major benefits are the efficient recycling of the existing road surface, which prevents in excess of 80 per cent of this valuable construction material from becoming landfill, and an associated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions generated during the construction process by over 50 per cent," he said.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Bundeena Drive had been upgraded in "a more cost effective, faster and more environmentally friendly way".

"There is obviously significant scope for [this methodology] to be applied elsewhere," he said.

Cr Pesce said the council continued to seek out innovative ways to deliver better infrastructure.

In 2018, the council conducted a trial on Old Princes Highway, Engadine of a product called Reconophalt - an asphalt mix that included recycled plastic bags, glass bottles and old printer cartridge toner could become the standard in Sutherland Shire.

A year later, council staff advised the pavement was holding up well, and they were asked to report on the cost and feasibility of mandating the use of recycled asphalt as the default or preferred road surface for council roads.

A report considered at this week's council meeting said NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had extended approval of the use of Reconophalt in road works until May 2022.

The report highlighted cost as an issue because there is only one supplier of Reconophalt and no supplier competition.

The council directed staff to include in tenders "encouragement for the use of road base containing higher levels of recycled materials".

Cr Jack Boyd, who successfully pushed for a stronger position than that advocated by staff, said "We have been at the cutting edge of trialling new and sustainable infrastructure technologies".

"With over 6.8 million square metres of road pavement in the shire, we have an amazing opportunity to reuse our existing road base and recycle materials that were once destined for landfill."

Cr Boyd said the Engadine trial involved recycling 76,000 plastic bag and packaging equivalents, 55,440 glass bottles, toner from 3960 used cartridges and 66 tonnes reclaimed asphalt.

"That was for just 190 metres of road, so imagine what we can do if we roll these technologies out across the community," he said.