Saved from the tip to transform our roads

December 16, 2021

Mordialloc Freeway

Alex Fraser recently featured in The Age to acknowledge the sustainable materials supplied for the new Mordialloc Freeway, as reported on Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

A Melbourne company is revamping waste materials for projects such as ‘green’ freeways.

There’s a lot to consider when driving a car. Directions, speed limits, other vehicles, passengers – there’s enough going on without then giving thought to what the road itself is actually made from. However, that topic is one the Victorian government has committed to with its Recycled First policy.

The policy is focused on optimising the use of recycled materials in all its road construction projects, which means the new Mordialloc Freeway might also be Australia’s greenest freeway.

The nine-kilometre stretch, which connects the Mornington Peninsula Freeway in Aspendale Gardens to the Dingley Bypass in Dingley Village, will not only save motorists up to 10 minutes on their commutes, it has also saved about a quarter of a million tonnes of recyclables from ending up in landfill.

Alex Fraser Glass Plant Blue Sky

Alex Fraser recycles problem waste glass into sand, used in major infrastructure works, like the Mordialloc Freeway.

‘‘The recycled glass component alone is equivalent to 205 million stubbies or around half a million wheelie bins,’’ explains Alex Fraser Group managing director Peter Murphy. As one of Melbourne’s oldest companies, Alex Fraser has grown from a metals trading business in 1879 to become Australia’s leading provider of recycled construction materials.

Green Roads is the environmental arm of Alex Fraser and, with recycling facilities throughout Victoria and Queensland, recovers refuse concrete, asphalt, brick, stone and glass and processes it into new, high-quality products needed for major infrastructure works, like the Mordialloc Freeway.

When we drive on a road, what we see is a top layer of asphalt, which is a combination of compacted stone, sand and bitumen (‘‘the black goo that holds it all together’’). Below that is what’s called the ‘‘road base’’. Murphy says that the entire 200,000 tonnes of road base the company supplied was 100 per cent recycled.

While previously it would have been dumped in a tip, asphalt can actually be recycled as well. ‘‘So instead of trucking a lot of new quarried stone or new quarried sand in from the other side of the city to make it, we can process old asphalt and use it as a new ingredient in the new asphalt,’’ Murphy explains, which means the freeway’s top layer contains around 44 per cent recycled content.

Alex Fraser’s Green Roads products have a lower density than quarried materials, markedly reducing the number of trucks required to transport the products and further improving environmental benefits.

Green Roads Truck Dingley Freeway 2020

Alex Fraser’s sustainable products helps customers reduce truck movements and the carbon footprint of major projects.

‘‘A huge part of the carbon emissions associated with construction projects is generated in the cartage,’’ says Murphy, adding this reduced truck movements by more than 572 trucks.

Given it regularly works on this kind of massive scale, Alex Fraser recycles millions of tonnes of construction materials every year, which is why last year it won the Premier’s Sustainability Award in the Large Business category.

‘‘We can reduce the carbon footprint of major projects by up to 65 per cent,’’ says Murphy. ‘‘The use of our recycled materials on the Mordialloc Freeway reduced carbon emissions by 2692 tonnes.’’

The company prides itself on the reliable supply of quality, sustainable products, in great volumes, and on time.

‘‘Alex Fraser has delivered outstanding sustainability outcomes on the Mordialloc Freeway Project, and a pavement with a ride quality that has surpassed all expectations,’’ says Murphy.

Want to read more about sustainable roads? Check out these past stories:

Sustainability, one road at a time with Alex Fraser

Alex Fraser’s answer to sustainable roads