Roads & Infrastructure Magazine reflects on the important topics and conversations addressed at the 19th AfPA International Flexible Pavement Conference in Brisbane, as well as why there continues to be optimism towards the future of flexible paving.
One of the core strengths of the Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) is the ability to attract and gather flexible pavements professionals from across Australasia, pooling together some of the sectors brightest minds to establish effective solutions.
The organisations’ International Flexible Pavements Conferences have been a bedrock for such conversations for years, with the latest housing discussions around growing momentum for “Safely Paving the way to Carbon Zero”.
The 19th rendition of the major AfPA event grows on the organisation’s history of hosting and supporting platforms to tackle important industry topics and challenges. It also marked one of the many events held since COVID-19.
Tanja Conners, the COO of AfPA, and Graham Perrett, Federal Member for Moreton and Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, officially opened the event.
Right from the get-go, the conference provided a platform for thought-provoking discussions, knowledge sharing, and the exchange of ground-breaking ideas.
The opening keynote address by Bernard Salt, discussed how “All roads point to a bigger, better, ‘flexier’ Australia: Why you should have confidence in the future of flexible paving in the 2020s and beyond.”
Day two of the conference was kickstarted with a visionary discussion on “Vision for net zero carbon emissions – an international perspective.” The focus was on efforts to decarbonise the road sector in Europe and explore alternative binder solutions for sustainable and greener pavements. Dr. Richard Willis and Joseph Shacat from the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Mats Wendel representing the EAPA, and Dr. Jean-Pascal Planche from the Western Research Institute led the way.
Erik Denneman from Puma Energy shared a ground-breaking approach to capturing and storing atmospheric CO2 in roads using biogenic bitumen. Kanjana Yindee, hailing from SAMI Bitumen Technologies, provided a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a green binder, a crucial step towards sustainability. Ben Ramsay from Viva Energy Australia presented an energy company’s approach to sustainability.
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The second day of the conference also marked a deep dive into the technical intricacies of the industry’s journey toward a carbon-zero future. The day’s agenda spanned a spectrum of critical topics, covering everything from Technical Evaluation Options to Safer People and Roads, Opportunities for Bitumen and Surfacings, Innovative Surfacings, and Industry Practices Improving Outcomes.
Tyrecycle sponsored an engaging session on crumb rubber in roads, shedding light on sustainable road construction practices. NAECO stepped up with its support for ‘Sustainability through Technologies – Intelligent Construction,’ offering a glimpse into cutting-edge approaches.
Two informative workshops also took place. “Workshop – Alternatives to Cutters in Sprayed Sealing”, which was sponsored by COLAS Australia Group and simultaneously, “Workshop – Optimising Material Use and Reuse,”, which was sponsored by the Wirtgen Group.
Day three of the conference kicked off with a dynamic start as Anita Langford, Assistant Secretary of the Program, Policy, and Budget Branch at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications, and the Arts, took the stage. Her discussion on “Land Transport Infrastructure: Australian Government Reforms and Priorities” set the tone for an engaging day of learning.
Following Langford’s session, the stage was graced by none other than Ian Roberts, a renowned activist, professional sporting identity, and actor. His keynote address left the audience inspired and motivated, as he shared his unique insights and experiences.
Three conference workshops also helped to address important topics on the conferences last day.
“How to reach Net Zero by 2050” took a look at a sustainable future, with experts sharing their strategies and ideas on achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Where do we go from here to ensure our workplaces are more diverse to support sustainability?” looked into the crucial link between workplace diversity and sustainability.
The conference also laid a foundation for impactful strategies and targets geared towards increasing diversity and safety throughout the sector.
An engaging panel featuring Katriina Tähkä, Tim Gander, and Emma Thomas, CEO of Sunshine Coast Council, delved diversity and inclusion, as well as how these aspects can greater support businesses on their journeys towards a carbon-neutral future.
The ‘Education Lab’ at the conference also heard valuable insights from industry experts, fostering a deeper understanding during this knowledge exchange. Senior Social Inclusion Advisor Andrew McDougall along with John Hollands and Vince Sanfilippo the General Manager of QLD & PNG at CPB Contractors presented compelling industry case studies, shedding light on innovative practices and initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion.
Attendees also heard about tips and practices to ensure the safety of works sites, making sure all stakeholders work seamlessly together for safer roads, as part of the “Advancing Road Worksite Safety and Stakeholder Coordination” workshop.
Special guest Wayne Schwass also touched on the importance around essential conversations on mental health. He said that prevention is always better than a ‘cure’, outlining ways to foster mentally healthy workplaces and communities.
The conference trade hall was a constant source of networking and engagement with some of the industry’s biggest players. The latest in machinery, sustainable materials science, technology and more was on show across all three days of the conference.
The 19th AfPA International Flexible Pavement Conference looks set to inspire change and lasting impacts across the industry for the better. Now, it’s up for the industry to take these learnings and influence real change.
AfPA would also like to thank its valued sponsors for their support of the conference, as follows: Platinum Sponsors: Viva Energy Australia, Puma Energy; Gold Sponsors: Department of Transport and Main Roads , SAMI Bitumen Technologies, WIRTGEN GROUP; Silver Sponsor: ASTEC; Bronze Sponsors: Geofabrics Australasia, TCI, Caterpillar Inc., Tyrecycle; Session Sponsors: Fulton Hogan, COLAS Australia Group, Downer, State Asphalt Services, Tyre Cycle, Altus Traffic Australia; Kiosk Sponsor: Action Auto Electrics.