NSW councils buy back recycling to drive new era in sustainable roads


By intouch * posted 30-09-2020 15:08


Sixteen Sydney metropolitan councils have joined forces to recycle nearly 100 million glass containers per year into local roads, through the largest local government-led procurement of recycled road-making materials in NSW history.


A request for tender (RFT) released last week by the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) – on behalf of 15 councils representing over 2.1 million people – aims to initiate a new age of road-making by using recycled crushed glass (RCG) as a substitute for natural sand in roads and footpaths, in line with Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and AUS-SPEC specifications.

The initiative, Paving the Way, is expected to create a market for over 20,000 tonnes of glass per year, or approximately one-third of these councils’ household glass recycling collections, without compromising existing recycling of glass into beverage containers. By signalling ongoing aggregated demand to the market, SSROC aims to stimulate end markets for recycled glass, as well as support local jobs and the development of essential recycling infrastructure.

The use of RCG is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by avoiding the transport of virgin sand from distant quarries. The procurement’s innovative contract model will track emissions and volumes of recycled materials to help councils report on sustainability targets.

Paving the Way is the first project under the Procure Recycled memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed by SSROC councils in November 2019, to prioritise recycled materials in procurement in response to China’s National Sword policy – which barred imports of Australia’s recyclable materials – and the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) decision to ban exports of unprocessed recyclable materials. Since then, SSROC has worked closely with TfNSW, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to refine specifications and align policies on recycled civil works materials.

Procure Recycled will identify more council procurement opportunities for other materials from kerbside recycling, including products made from recycled plastics such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and expanded polystyrene.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean says the initiative is an important step for NSW, helping to increase the uptake in the use of recycled materials and also boosting local economies.

“I want to make sure that NSW is a leader when it comes to recycling waste and maximising recycling, this is not just an environmental strategy but an economic one as well,” Kean says.

“This is about the NSW Government empowering business and local government through innovative and sustainable initiatives that help to build essential infrastructure, create jobs and drive a robust economy.”

SSROC President, Councillor John Faker, says, “This is a game-changer that puts every household on the frontline of a stronger, more sustainable society and reinforces the critical role played by the community in separating their recycling. Our councils are working hard to ensure that every single recyclable material put into the yellow-lidded bin is used as a resource.”

SSROC Acting General Manager Helen Sloan says, “Local governments, especially when working collaboratively and buying wisely, can support growing and new markets and therefore the industries and jobs that result, so that everyone wins. Paving the Way is a great model for the future, and we welcome other councils to join the resulting contract.”

Participating councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, City of Sydney, Fairfield, Georges River, Hornsby, Inner West, Northern Beaches, Randwick, Ryde, Sutherland, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra.