Councils across Victoria are leading an Australian-first project for road authorities committing to increase the use of recycled content in road, footpath and shared pathways construction.

Cr Bill McArthur, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) said the launch of the Local Government Recycled Roads to Zero Waste Challenge set a new, more sustainable benchmark for civil construction nationally.

“With Victorian councils responsible for 129 000 kilometres of roads and 40 000 kilometres of footpaths, this is a great example of where large-scale practical action can reduce our carbon footprint and achieve zero waste.

“Boosting the use of recycled crushed glass (RCG), crushed brick and crushed concrete in the base of pavement construction creates new market uses for the 2.2 million tonnes of stockpiles and 800 000 tonnes sent to landfill each year. It also closes the loop on councils’ kerbside recycling programs.

“Local government’s average road expenditure accounts for between nine and 20 per cent of their total budget, but can be much higher for some rural shires.

“By embracing the use of approved recycled content councils will reduce their civil construction costs, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and the reliance on quarried materials, which are becoming harder to source.

“With no reduction in pavement performance, and no cost increase, it makes great environmental and economic sense,” he said.

The Recycled Roads to Zero Waste project is an MAV-Sustainability Victoria partnership to increase councils’ use of recycled content in civil construction. A Project Advisory Group was set up, council demonstration projects progressed with funding support from the Packaging Stewardship Forum, and a new web-based resource developed to support councils’ access to information.

Cr McArthur said nine partner agencies including government, industry and research institutions had been involved in the project since 2009, as well as five municipalities who had constructed demonstration sites.

“The laboratory and field testing concluded that recycled crushed brick and crushed glass in blends of up to 30 per cent were equivalent to, or exceeded, the performance of quarried rock.

“New construction specifications developed by Swinburne University for the MAV recommend the use of 15 per cent and 30 per cent RCG and crushed concrete or brick in the sub base of footpaths and shared pathways.

“A separate 2011 VicRoads specification now allows up to 15 per cent crushed brick and RCG content for a Class 3 road base construction, and up to 25 per cent in a Class 4 sub-base construction.

“While demonstration sites across four states are an important catalyst for change, the Recycled Roads to Zero Waste Sustainability Challenge takes the next step by seeking a formal commitment from Victorian councils.

“Local government can pave the way to a greener road future nationally by identifying works in their five-year capital programs, and putting it into action through their construction and procurement practices,” he said.

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