New research steers industry, government towards actions to increase uptake of recycled content in roads
Australia faces barriers to the uptake of recycled content in roads, and the environmental, economic and performance benefits that would bring, according to a new research report from Standards Australia. However, the report also outlines a roadmap to address the primary roadblocks and calls on industry and government to form a partnership to make progress.
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,” says Roland Terry-Lloyd, Standards Australia’s Head of Engagement and Strategic Delivery.
“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.”
Recommendations outlined in the report include:
- Increasing collaboration between the Australian Government, Standards Australia and industry to create new standards or modify existing standards; and
- Create guidance material on the use of recycled materials in road construction, its benefits and the enabling standards to improve awareness and overcome misconceptions.
The report notes that Standards Australia has already begun implementing the recommendations made, and amendments to existing standards are in train.
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.
“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.
The Standards to facilitate the use of recycled material in road construction report follows initial research conducted by Standards Australia to investigate if standards inhibit the use of recycled materials in roads, urban furniture, and food containers. It also builds upon the findings of the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and Infrastructure Australia.
- Read the full report here
- Listen to the podcast here
Standards Australia is committed to supporting Australia’s transition to a Circular Economy, establishing the Circular Economy Advisory Group (CEAG) in 2022, bringing together leading industry experts to strengthen partnerships and capitalise on new opportunities. The organisation also coordinates a Circular Economy national mirror committee (EV-022) to champion Australian interests at the international level and support the development of the first international Circular Economy standards.