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Australia missing out on benefits of recycled content in roads

BGC Contracting has secured a bulk earthworks and roads contract at Fortescue Metals Group’s Eliwana iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

A new report from Standards Australia has found several barriers slowing the uptake of recycled materials in Australia’s roads.

The Standards to facilitate the use of recycled material in road construction report, developed in collaboration with the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), identifies ways to advance the use of recycled materials in roads, investigates if standards inhibit their use and explores areas where Australian Standards can facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

The report found varying specifications between jurisdictions and a lack of nationally harmonised performance-based standards to be significant barriers to the uptake of recycled content in roads. Other barriers include gaps in procurement policies and a lack of maturity in some materials markets.

“Using recycled content in roads has considerable benefits, including a reduction in environmental impact, improved performance of materials, cost savings, and job creation,” Roland Terry-Lloyd, Standards Australia’s head of engagement and strategic delivery said.

“Standards have a crucial role to play in addressing these barriers and facilitating the transition to a circular economy by establishing common definitions, measurements, and guidelines for industry, government, and consumers.”

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The report recommends increasing collaboration between the Australian Government, Standards Australia and industry to create new standards or modify existing standards, and to create guidance material on the use of recycled materials in road construction.

Suzanne Toumbourou, chief executive officer of ACOR said Australia has an abundance of fit-for-purpose, high performance recycled material that can readily be used in roads, which also deliver great environmental and social outcomes.

“We have been delighted to work with Standards Australia to navigate the barriers to uptake of recycled materials in roads and explore how standards can support industry to overcome these barriers,” Toumbourou said.

“By working collaboratively together to identify actions to support the use of recycled materials, we can contribute to the circularity of roads and provide a more sustainable future for transportation infrastructure.”

In addition to implementing the recommendations listed above, Standards Australia will form an expert committee to inform policy, and will then seek to collaborate with state and federal governments to take action.

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