Austroads releases repurposed road surface guide

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Image by Pat Whelan on Unsplash.

Austroads has released an interim guidance on the use of recycled plastic waste for surfacing applications on road projects.

With the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG’s) ban on the export of recycled waste plastic effective from 1 July 2021, Austroads Transport Infrastructure Program Manager Ross Guppy said there was increasing interest in repurposing recycled waste plastic for use in road surfacing applications.

“A total of 3.5 million tonnes of plastics were consumed in Australia during the 2018-19 financial year. Only 11.5 per cent were recycled (locally and exported) while the rest were sent to land fill,” Guppy said.

“With the COAG ban on plastic exports, alternative methods to deal with waste plastics must be implemented for a sustainable future.”

Austroads’ guide is intended for use by local governments for the surfacing of local roads, with the guidance to help asset owners to consider using the repurposed material.

The guidelines focus on how plastics could be incorporated into asphalt or sealing work and include flow charts, forms and examples that will provide support in assessing products and technology.

However, the guideline offers no or limited guidance on matters such as technical information on health, safety or environmental matters, relative costs of products, procurement of proprietary products or performance of products.

Research into the aforementioned aspects is currently being undertaken by Austroads, with asset owners urged to consider their own assessment for each individual project.

Specifications for the recycled waste plastic modified binders are currently not in place. In the interim, Austroads has recommended that binder or asphalt suppliers use Austroads specification ATS 3110 as a template to test the properties of the recycled waste plastic binders used in the wet process to manufacture Alternative Asphalt or used for sprayed sealing.

The interim guidelines also recommend suppliers develop a plan to manage the handling and storage of a recycled waste plastic modified binder.

An overview of the guidelines will be held on Tuesday 10 August, with authors Azeem Remtulla and Steve Halligan. Interested viewers are being urged to register for the live event.

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