Guiding contractors into the circular economy for transport projects

Trish Sunga Trish Sunga Australasia Press Office,Sydney
13 April 2021

Arup is helping the infrastructure industry step into the circular economy and make better environmental choices about materials for transport projects.

To encourage the optimal use of recycled products, Arup and Ecologiq, a Victorian Government initiative, have developed new reference guides for recycled materials in rail, road and ancillary infrastructure.

The guides provide an overview of emerging materials, industry standards and specifications, as well as approval pathways. They can help prospective designers and contractors on Victorian Government transport infrastructure projects to maximise their use in line with the Recycled First Policy requirements.

“This is a real step towards sustainable outcomes,” said Arup’s project lead, Phil Brunson.  

“Almost 40 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are from the construction and building sector. Applying reused or recycled materials in place of their virgin counterparts is a great way to improve material efficiency and reduce carbon emissions on road and rail infrastructure projects.”

The guides will provide a boon to contractors as they explore quick and easy ways to enhance project sustainability. ” Tony Aloisio Ecologiq Director

The opportunity to support Ecologiq to create the reference guides came through Arup’s role as Technical Advisor to Major Road Projects Victoria

Phil said we drew on our technical expertise to apply reused and recycled materials in infrastructure projects, as well as knowledge of standards, specifications, approvals pathways and processes in delivering transport projects to ensure the guides are easy to follow. 

Arup and Ecologiq are planning masterclasses for contractors and stakeholders and will collaborate to identify applications that go ‘beyond compliance’ and find other innovative approaches. 

Night time construction work on a road Night time construction work on a road
A section of East Boundary Road in Bentleigh East that was laid with asphalt made of crumb rubber from used tyres

Finding allowable applications can be challenging, with a diverse selection of materials, products and industry standards to navigate. The reference guides are a step toward ‘business as usual’ application of reused and recycled materials. ” Phil Brunson Phil Brunson Senior Engineer

Ecologiq Director Tony Aloisio said a huge amount of work had gone into the guides to ensure they can appropriately support contractors and project teams that are required to incorporate Recycled First principles into tender proposals. 

Victorian transport projects that have successfully implemented recycled materials include:

  • the Mordialloc Freeway noise walls that will now be made from 75 per cent recycled plastic collected from households across the state. Other applications include using recycled glass in asphalt, recycled concrete in the road base and drainage pipes made from recycled plastic.

  • the Kororoit Creek Road Level Crossing Removal Project that used recycled glass sand from bottles and jars, instead of freshly quarried sand, as bedding fill material for combined service routes, as well as backfill for drainage piping. 

  • the Wyndham Vale train stabling yard, a Level Crossing Removal Project which trialled railway sleepers made from recycled plastic, instead of concrete, and 

  • a section of East Boundary Road in Bentleigh East that was laid with asphalt made of crumb rubber from used tyres. 

The guides are available by contacting Ecologiq.