Footpath made using recycled plastic and glass fines

Published: 22 March 2019

A two-hundred-metre long concrete footpath made with 199,000 recycled glass and plastic bottles has been laid in Hoppers Crossing this month, in a Victorian first trial.

The concrete aggregate for the footpath contains shredded recycled plastics between four and eight millimetres, and glass fines – leftover glass particles typically between 3 and 8 millimetres in size. Glass fines are too small to be recycled during the normal recycling process and would otherwise be stockpiled or sent to landfill.

Sustainability Victoria partnered with Swinburne University of Technology to develop the new method of pavement construction, with funding from the Victorian Government’s Research, Development and Demonstration grant, part of the $4.5 million Resource Recovery Market Development Programe to increase the use of recovered glass fines and flexible plastics in new or existing products or processing approaches.

The glass fines and plastic are bound directly into the concrete using a similar technique to traditional aggregate materials. Importantly the aggregate blend meets the required strength and standard requirements for footpath construction, with testing showing similar wear resistance to control samples.

The real-world application in Hoppers Crossing follows a laboratory development and testing stage. It will be closely monitored to confirm durability and performance including if, or how, any plastics could potentially be released from the solid bound pavement, though there is not anticipated that there will be issues with microplastics with this initiative. Information from this demonstration project will be captured and used to inform any future improvements to the product.

The numbers:

  • 52 kg of plastic and 110 kg of glass used per cubic metre of concrete.
  • 2,600 kg of plastic and 5,500 kg of glass used for 200 m trial site in 50 cubic metres of concrete.
  • Approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics end up in landfill every year in Victoria.
  • More than 60,000 tonnes of glass fines end up in landfill every year in Victoria.

Sustainability Victoria has been thinking circular for a long time. We can create more value from our waste by designing for reuse, keeping products circulating in the economy at their greatest value for as long as possible.

A circular economy requires commitment from industry, government and the community, and these principles are applied to sustainability Victoria's program design and delivery, and to encourage all Victorians to rethink, recover and reuse products wherever they can.

Sustainability Victoria will continue to work with councils, Local Government Victoria and the Municipal Association of Victoria to increase the uptake of recycled content in infrastructure.

The Swinburne University of Technology Research team has been working with recycled content supplier PolyTrade, Wyndham City Council and concrete contractor MetroPlant on the trial footpath.

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