Citywide: On the journey to a circular economy

Charbel Bou-Ghosn and Chris Camenzuli from Citywide Asphalt Group at the Laverton plant.

A year into the operation of its Laverton asphalt plant, the Citywide Asphalt Group continues to explore opportunities for increased sustainability across the entire production chain.

In early 2020, the Citywide Asphalt Group – a  Joint Venture between Citywide Service Solutions and Fulton Hogan – opened a new state-of-the-art sustainable asphalt plant in Laverton North.

With a goal of running the plant on 100 per cent renewable electricity within 12 months, the company had its sights set on new and innovative ideas to support asphalt production.

12 months on the Joint Venture has achieved this goal and many more. We sat down with the team to speak about their learnings and triumphs in research, development, supply and sustainability.

Stephen McArthur, General Manager of the Citywide Asphalt Group, says through its Joint Venture with Fulton Hogan the group gets access to National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratories which allows the team to foster innovation for mix technology and design.

“We are also unique in that we have a business model where two plants are located 22 kilometres from each other at either end of the city, which allows us to provide the latest in technology to the local market,” McArthur says.

The state-of-the-art Laverton asphalt plant is the latest Marini model, which allows the company to drive sustainability with energy and product innovations.

“The plant features a low-emissions burner, which enables reductions in energy in the drying component. We are also part of the Melbourne Renewable Energy 2 (MREP 2) project, in which Tango Energy supplies the asphalt plant with electricity from local renewable sources,” McArthur says.

David Messenger from Fulton Hogan working at the Laverton plant.

“This allows us to save over 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere per annum.”

Most of this energy comes from the Yaloak South Wind Farm near Ballan in Victoria, with some of the power coming from other regional Victorian wind farm projects if required.

The plant itself is the latest Marini batch plant which can process up to 200 tonnes an hour and accommodates a range of mix designs including hot, warm, cold, polymer modified, open or gap graded, high percentages of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) and other recycled materials such as crumb rubber or glass.

“The plant will give us the capability to work towards producing mixes with 60 per cent RAP content without the need for a second drying drum,” McArthur says.

As the Joint Venture marks its five-year anniversary, the team have reflected on areas of research and development they have significantly developed through collaboration.

“With this new plant we have a big emphasis on improving our RAP mixes. That is an ongoing process, and we want to target all of the different mix types with high RAP, so we are continuously working on that,” McArthur says.

“We already have an existing mix design using 50 per cent recycled content and we are looking to build on that. We’re conducting trials at the moment to incorporate many more recycled products and we are very much in the research and development phase there.”

The Citywide Asphalt Group has looked into E-waste and other plastics which could be used in asphalt mixes.

Charbel Bou-Ghosn, a Citywide Asphalt Group supervisor in the asphalt plant control room.

In 2020, they supplied Citywide Service Solutions’ maintenance division with an asphalt mix that incorporated plastic to be used on five streets in Melbourne City.

“We also have some mixes that incorporate glass which are now Department of Transport approved for use in Victoria. Development of sustainable and innovative mixes like these is something we are consistently working on behind the scenes,” McArthur says.

“The primary areas of research and development we’ve been focusing on are high RAP mixes, glass, plastic, warm mix, slag and rubber.”

Innovative mix designs like these come under the Citywide Asphalt Group’s GreenPave product range.

Recently the company has also altered its cold mix asphalt design from using diesel as an agent, to a bio-based canola oil product made in Victoria.

“The Laverton plant on top of the research and development has given additional supply options for the west-Melbourne asphalt market. The market feedback tells us we have some of the best performing mixes across multiple sectors,” McArthur says.

“We’ve realised benefits for carbon emissions and the positives of low plant wastage due to having the latest batch plant technology. Our Laverton Plant has also realised a true 200 tonne per hour capability and a big contributor to that is the plant’s four tonne pug mill.”

For the next five years and beyond, the Citywide Asphalt Group want to continue to innovate and create high performing products in line with its values.

“We want to play our part in the community, so we are always looking to adapt to the times, to change from good to great and to find ways of exercising innovation and creativity,” McArthur says.

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