The road that’s pure rubbish

A Sydney council is the driving force behind a plan to put plastic bags to good use, creating the first road in NSW built entirely from recycled materials.

Sutherland Shire Council teamed up with private enterprise to reconstruct Engadine’s Old Princes Highway using Plastiphalt, a product made from plastic products, glass, printer cartridges and reclaimed asphalt.

The 2.5-kilometre stretch of road is the first of many planned for the Shire. It follows the lead of Hume Council in Melbourne, which created the first road in the country made of recycled materials, in Craigieburn, in May this year.

The Old Princes Highway in Engadine is the first road in NSW to be made of 100 per cent recycled materials. (Photo:  Ari Kimber)

The council teamed up with Downer Group and sustainable resource providing companies Close Loop, Red Group and Plastic Police on the Sydney project.

The road has diverted literally tonnes of rubbish from landfill, including 176,000 plastic bags, 55,000 glass bottles, 4,000 old printer cartridges and 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the “achievement” demonstrated how committed organisations could find innovative solutions to waste reduction.

“The NSW government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfills and put to good use,” she said in a press release.

Sign on Old Princes Highway Engadine, outlining how many materials were used to create this road. (Photo: Ari Kimber)

The council plans to create more roads like this, finding an environmentally friendly solution for its annual 25,000 tonnes of recyclable rubbish.

Plastiphalt is a high-quality, cost-effective road product that can last longer than regular asphalt, according to Downer’s general manager Stuart Billing.

“[It] has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and superior resistance to deformation making roads last longer, allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.

The council hopes the initiative will serve as a model for other NSW councils looking for environmentally sustainable solutions to general waste.