Recycled First – Victoria’s Circular Accelerator

December 8, 2022

Mordialloc Freeway Green Roads Alex Fraser Asphalt Crew

Roads and Infrastructure magazine reviews the transformative Recycled First policy, and Alex Fraser’s contribution of Green Roads Construction Materials.

Through the implementation of the Victorian Government’s Recycled First Policy, ecologiQ has reshaped the state’s circular economy. Use of Alex Fraser’s Green Roads Construction Materials is supporting the delivery of greener roads and rail in Victoria’s Big Build.

Since its release in March 2020, Victoria’s Recycled First Policy has driven sustainable procurement in the delivery of infrastructure projects across the state.

The policy aims to markedly increase the use of recycled materials in all major government infrastructure projects, establishing a strong circular economy by prioritising the use of recycled materials.

Under the policy, around 1.3 million tonnes of recycled materials have been used as part of project delivery.

Alex Fraser has played a leading role in the manufacture and supply of recycled materials to some of Victoria’s largest infrastructure projects.

With decades of resource recovery experience, Alex Fraser has recovered more than 50 million tonnes of construction materials, such as asphalt, brick and concrete, and recycled it into quality products like roadbase, aggregates and asphalt that can reduce the environmental impact of new infrastructure.

Map of Metropolitan Melbourne with plotted major projects.

So far this year, Alex Fraser has supplied more than 465,000 tonnes of Green Roads Construction Materials for projects in Victoria.

This year alone, Alex Fraser has supplied Victoria’s major projects with more than 465,000 tonnes of its Green Roads Construction Materials.

Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser’s Managing Director, says change agents like ecologiQ, are driving sustainable development through the implementation of the Recycled First Policy which is directly increasing demand for recycled products that deliver measurable outcomes for the environment.

“By prioritising the use of recycled materials, the Victorian Government has sent a very clear message to the entire industry, that it’s time to make product choices that deliver on cost, quality and sustainability,” Murphy says.

“In order to be recognised for doing good work, you need to use recycled materials first, wherever possible. That has certainly created a shift in the market.”

Allen Garner, CEO, Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV), says the policy provides a “huge flow-on” effect, creating economic and social benefits.

“The Recycled First Policy is the first procurement policy of its kind to mandate the use of Victorian recycled and reused materials on major transport projects,” Garner says.

“Recycled First is proof that government procurement policy can be an influential change mechanism.”

“And this is just the beginning. All future major transport infrastructure projects will integrate Recycled First, including mega projects like Suburban Rail Loop, new North-East Link packages and Melbourne’s Airport Rail.”

Building greener roads

For decades, Alex Fraser has led the way in the recovery of inner-city demolition refuse and kerbside glass waste to produce huge volumes of high-quality, high-recycled aggregates, asphalt, roadbase and sand needed for inner city projects.

Murphy says quality assurance is a hallmark of the company’s Green Roads products, with vigorous testing in NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) laboratories, ensuring its products consistently meet the highest standard and are in line with road building specifications for Victoria’s Department of Transport specifications and Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.

MRPV CEO Allen Garner says suppliers of recycled and reused materials, such as Alex Fraser, play a vital role in the shift to a Victorian circular economy.

An independent product Life Cycle Assessment completed by RMIT has verified that the use of Alex Fraser’s recycled construction materials can help reduce the carbon footprint of infrastructure projects, by up to 65 per cent.

Alex Fraser’s established network of sites in Victoria and Queensland made Green Roads Construction Materials the product of choice for some of the largest infrastructure projects across the states.

Murphy says this network of sites has led to savings for both contractors and the environment.

“Having that network of sites in proximity to where recyclables are generated and where new works are underway is critical. One example is the recent works on the Mordialloc Freeway, which was virtually on the doorstep of our Clarinda Recycling Facility and our Dandenong Asphalt Plant,” he says. “Similarly, our Laverton Sustainable Supply Hub is perfectly located to service growth in that area, as demonstrated with the recent Western Roads Upgrade.”

Murphy adds that the established network can ease the pressures linked to conventional material sourcing and delivery.

“We’ve put many, many years of research and development into growing our recycled product offering,” he says. “Our customers understand that we can provide them with a complete range of high-quality recycled construction materials, in the huge volumes required to meet the demands of major infrastructure projects.

“We understand the pressures and timelines for major projects. We do everything that we can to ensure our customers receive their materials where and when they need them.”

Victoria’s Big Build has the potential to use almost 11 million tonnes of recycled materials over the next five years.

This year, Alex Fraser has supplied more than 188,000 tonnes of recycled materials to the Northern Roads Upgrade (NRU) and Suburban Roads Upgrade (SRU).

The recycler has also produced and delivered its recycled construction materials into dozens of Level Crossing Removal Projects, including associated works at Edithvale, Preston, Williamstown and Hurstbridge.

Alex Fraser’s recycling capacity continues to grow, through ongoing diversification and expansion.

“We’re always looking for opportunities for growth and to take on new recovery streams. We’re investigating what other materials could be recovered, recycled and turned into high-quality products that help reduce our impact.  We’re also continuing to invest in new capacity.”

Murphy adds, the Recycled First Policy and the establishment of supporting agencies such as ecologiQ, are paving the way to infrastructure sustainability in Victoria and beyond.

MRPV CEO Allen Garner says organisations such as Alex Fraser are helping to not only generate jobs and investment in Victoria’s growing circular economy but are also helping to drive lower-cost infrastructure, by curbing the industry’s reliance on raw materials.

Garner says he’s excited for the future of Victoria’s recycled material market.

“We want to scale up further by increasing use, updating standards and specifications and creating innovative new uses for emerging materials.”

“Suppliers of recycled and reused materials, such as Alex Fraser, play a vital role in our shift to a Victorian circular economy. Alex Fraser’s facilities have turned millions of tonnes of waste into vital road and rail construction materials – keeping them out of landfill and making them readily available for use on our local transport infrastructure projects.”

“Victoria’s Big Build has created an environment where demand for materials is at an all-time high, giving suppliers of recycled products confidence to explore innovations. If all opportunities to use greener products were taken up, Victoria’s Big Build has the potential to use almost 11 million tonnes of recycled materials over the next five years,” he says.

“If we can continue to find innovative products that meet our needs, then we can move beyond the 11 million forecast and make recycled materials the new normal.”

This article was originally published in the December edition of Roads and Infrastructure magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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