Drive home on bread bags

Recycling company Close the Loop has unveiled an upgraded manufacturing facility that could divert two-thirds of Australia’s 300,000 tonnes of waste soft plastics sent to local landfill annually.
The new manufacturing line in Melbourne will produce TonerPlas, an asphalt additive that contains the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, toner from more than 12,000 recycled cartridges and 168,000 glass bottles in every kilometre of two-lane road. In conjunction with Downer, roads featuring TonerPlas have already been laid in Melbourne and Sydney this year.

Close the Loop chairman Craig Devlin said the opening of the line coincided with National Recycling Week and will enable the company to produce the additive on a commercial scale.
“Close the Loop has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years. Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries.
“TonerPlas is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products. The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65 per cent, meaning longer lasting roads at a cost-competitive price. It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”
“At full capacity our new manufacturing line provides us with the ability to produce enough TonerPlas in a year to pave a two-lane road from Sydney to Melbourne. That would contain the equivalent of 530,000,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000,000 recycled glass bottles and 12,000,000 recycled toner cartridges. That’s more than 200,000 tonnes of soft plastics that currently go to landfill in Australia.”

He added that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and reuse of products – a circular economy.
“Our new manufacturing capacity to reuse soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do,” Mr Devlin said. “However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry and divert problematic waste streams from landfill. Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge, especially as plastic bags account for less than five percent of all waste soft plastics.”

Government to reconsider infrastructure spending

The Federal Government’s model for financing infrastructure projects entirely with taxpayers is soon to be replaced, putting the onus of contribution on those set to benefit most from improved infrastructure – developers.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s Vera Sprothen, critics are voicing their disapproval of a system which allows Australian taxpayers to fund investment in roads, rail, waterways, marine ports and airports in full – an investment of 1.6 per cent of GPD, the highest of all major OECD countries
“We’re spending money, but we’re losing value,” said Joe Langley, a director in Sydney engineering firm AECOM Technology’s infrastructure advisory unit.
Sprothen noted criticisms of the current system, “Concerns are growing that Australia is letting private investors profit too much from higher land and property values generated by the new transportation project.
“Australia lags behind places like Hong Kong, London and Denver, which use mechanisms to ensure private real estate developers – not just the public purse – help pay for infrastructure.”
Solutions proposed include following models used successfully elsewhere, including ‘value capture’, whereby developers help pay for projects in return for the opportunity to profit off the increased land value.
The Federal Government announced in November that value capture is a direction it is considering, and the days of infrastructure projects being fully funded by the public purse are nearing an end.

Decmil win Atlas Iron construction contract

Atlas Iron has awarded Decmil a major road design and construction project in the Pilbara.

Valued at $34 million, the contract is for the Woodstock Marble Bar road upgrade works and realignment of around 55 kilometres of roading, including sealing workers, floodways, and construction works.

It will mobilise later this month, with completion scheduled for May this year.

Decmil CEO Scott Criddle said “we are delighted to commence 2014 with this win from Atlas”.

This contract follows another major mining win for Decmil in late November, when it was awarded the construction contract for diesel fuel infrastructure at Roy Hill.

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