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RMIT leads new plastics roads research

Image courtesy of RMIT University.

An RMIT University led project has developed a new roads mix containing recycled plastics, to be used at ten sites across Victoria.

The project, supported by the Australian Research Council, Austroads and 10 Victorian councils is set to incorporate recycled plastic from consumer and industrial waste, including problematic waste streams such as soft plastics.

In total, the 10 project sites will use an estimated 21,000 kilograms of recycled plastic.

Local government areas involved in the project include City of Melbourne, Banyule, Bayside, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Baw Baw, Latrobe, Casey, Mornington Peninsula and Wyndham. Each LGA will have sections of recycled road up to 900 metres long paved over coming months.

A set of best-practice guidelines will also be developed as part of the project for use of recycled plastics in asphalt roads.

The roads mix is expected to increase the performance of the roads, while helping to address plastic waste being sent to landfills, which are expected to reach capacity by 2025.


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Research funded by Austroads and published in Science of the Total Environment found that recycled plastic asphalt mixes had 150 per cent less cracking and 85 per cent less deformation under pressure testing when compared to conventional asphalt.

Project lead, RMIT Associate Professor Filippo Giustozzi, said these results are encouraging for the potential future use of recycled materials within asphalt mixes.

“These studies tell us that adding specific types of plastic in the right way can generate greater rutting and fatigue resistance,” he said.

“In some instances, the performance of the mix was similar to some of the more expensive polymers used in roads and substantially higher than conventional asphalt mixes.”

Along with Austroads, the collaboration includes Australia’s leading pavement authorities and specialists, including public works and building bodies, recyclers and contractors.

It will be coordinated under the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS).

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