A sustainable structure

Norbert Michel, AfPA National Sustainability Director and Executive Director VIC/TAS.
Norbert Michel, AfPA National Sustainability Director and Executive Director VIC/TAS.

The Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) has developed a framework to encourage the production of sustainable products within the industry. AfPA Executive Director for Victoria and Tasmania, Norbert Michel, explains.

For over 50 years, the Australian Flexible Pavement Association (AfPA) has been a unified voice for the flexible pavement industry, leading the way on safety, sustainability and innovation.

AfPA’s Sustainability Committee continues to promote the use of environmentally friendly methods, as well as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Its latest development is set to push the envelope even further.

Over four years ago, discussions between AfPA and state road authorities planted the seed for what would become the association’s first Sustainability Framework for Asphalt.

AfPA Executive Director for Victoria and Tasmania, Norbert Michel, says the idea for such a framework was in some ways born out of necessity.

“We asked ourselves: if we wanted to assess sustainability across the industry, what would it look like? And what would we include?” he says.

The Sustainability Framework for Asphalt (SF4A) enables government agencies and businesses within the industry to define best practice for asphalt production and embed sustainability metrics into procurement.

It’s designed to help asphalt procurers to select organisations who demonstrate sustainable production. 

Michel says the SF4A was developed internally, with key members and associations being consulted, to ensure it reflected the desires and needs of the flexible pavement industry.

“There wasn’t a developed framework which could be used to compare businesses for sustainable asphalt production,” he says. “It was important to have insight from the industry, as operators are the ones who’ll be judged by the framework.”

Adopting the framework 

The SF4A has been developed to be implemented by procurement agencies, who can use the framework to set benchmarks for sustainability. 

Similar to aspects such as cost and previous experience, these sustainability targets can indicate a businesses’ suitability for a contract or tender.

Michel says key performance indicators can include energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP).

“These agencies can continue using their current processes for tender evaluation. Sustainability is just another metric that could be weighted as part of the process,” he says.

Asphalt producers can also use the SF4A to assess their own business practices.

“These organisations have the opportunity to evaluate their own progress in pursuit of becoming more sustainable operators. They can identify areas of the business which may require growth or investment,” Michel says.

“This may be for increased capacity, capability or upgrades to plants, which may give them a commercial edge. It can differentiate a company from others during the tendering process.”

As Michel adds, an increasing number of project contracts are mandating the inclusion of sustainable materials.  

“Clients still want to know that they’re purchasing from suppliers who have expertise and quality products. Sustainable and responsible production is now a major factor in contract tendering,” he says.

The Sustainability Framework for Asphalt allows procurement agencies to embed sustainability metrics.
The Sustainability Framework for Asphalt allows procurement agencies to embed sustainability metrics.

Long-term view 

Michel says the AfPA is now talking to state road authorities nationally, who are contemplating using the framework within their assessment structures.

He is hoping the SF4A will form an integral part of the industry’s efforts to contribute to Australia’s emission reduction targets. The SF4A also reflects the United Nation’s Sustainability Development goals.

“We’re working on releasing a position statement to the industry to outline how we will achieve these 2030 and 2050 goals. The framework will be an underpinning tool, which will help us to achieve the goals we set as an industry,” Michel says.

“As an industry, we are recognising that the achievement of these goals cannot be led purely by our majority members. They have an impact, but it’s the sustainable improvements from the collective that really count.”

AfPA is aiming for the SF4A to be embedded in state and local government procurement agencies across the country, with hopes of embedding it in pilot contracts later this year.

To learn more about the framework, visit: www.afpa.asn.au 

This article was originally published in the June edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.



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