Construction waste gets a new lease on life

Published: 10 November 2020

Recycling facility, Commercial Tippers is filling a gap in Victoria’s recycling infrastructure.

They have built additional capacity to separate and recycle construction waste and recover valuable materials with support from our Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund >.

When developing new properties and buildings, waste material is created, including:

  • bricks
  • metal
  • rubble
  • soil
  • timber.

These materials can be recycled into new products and used again. But there are limited facilities that handle mixed waste generated from construction sites. We are supporting the sector to increase its ability to recycle mixed materials, so valuable materials don’t end up in landfill.

In Victoria, 13% of construction and demolition waste ends up in landfill – some of this is mixed waste that could be recycled in facilities like Commercial Tippers.

While the construction and demolition sector have one of the highest rates of diverting waste from landfill, the need to manage this waste is growing. We are the fastest growing state in Australia, with our population expected to reach 11.2 million by 2056.

Our growing population means we need to:

  • reduce the amount of waste we produce
  • reuse and repair our products
  • recycle our materials.

To address this growing need, we provided Commercial Tippers with $500,000 to expand and redevelop their facility.

This contributes to Victoria’s circular economy and Recycling Victoria policy by:

  • providing businesses opportunities to innovate
  • improving infrastructure to meet the demands of our growing recycling sector
  • boosting the recycled material market.

New facility recycles new and vintage waste

Commercial Tippers in collaboration with business partners, SMART Recycling, converted an old landfill into South East Melbourne’s largest construction waste sorting facility.

A high-tech facility has been constructed that:

  • recycles 90% of all waste
  • reprocesses up to 60 tonnes of material per hour.

From January to March 2020, Commercial Tippers increased its recycling capacity, diverting an extra 4,447 tonnes of waste from landfill. Annually, the facility is expected to divert up to 40,000 tonnes from landfill.

The facility is reprocessing timber, soil, concrete and brick waste from new construction sites, as well as waste that was left on the old landfill site.

The old landfill site is home to piles of bricks from the '80s and '90s. But they are now getting a new lease on life. The vintage bricks are recovered and mixed with other recycled bricks. The bricks are crushed into brick chips or finer particles. They are then used for new construction projects and manufacturing.

Recycled soil from the site, is also used as a landscaping product after it’s blended with compost material. Recycling bricks and soil reduces the demand for virgin materials from mines and quarries.
Old timber from housing construction sites also finds its way to Commercial Tippers. Timber is chipped and made into mulch which is used for landscaping and garden supplies.

Closing the loop – generating renewable energy

Timber that cannot be reused, is being used to create bioenergy on-site, by SMART Recycling. A biomass boiler was purchased with $437,000 in funding through our Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund. The boiler will produce renewable thermal energy by combusting recovered timber.

The biomass boiler will:

  • reduce organic waste going to landfill by up to 2500 tonnes per year
  • reduce the reliance on natural gas, by using renewable thermal energy, to heat-treat wooden pallets.

This biomass boiler reduces the need for gas (bottled liquefied petroleum gas) and as a result saves almost 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. That’s equivalent to removing over 1000 vehicles from the road, based on average distance travelled per year of 13,301 km/car (Budget Direct 2020) and average carbon dioxide emission intensity of 180.9 g/km (National Transport Commission 2019).

Our Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund supports our circular economy and aims to:

  • remove barriers in the development of bioenergy infrastructure
  • divert organic waste from landfill
  • contribute towards the Victorian Government’s zero net emissions target by 2050.