UNSW-led project to convert landfill waste into value-added additives for use in asphalt.

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Image Credit: @charlottelharrison (Unsplash)

The University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney) has joined forces with State Asphalts, Closed Loop, Primaplas and Asphaltech to work on a project to convert paper and plastic landfill waste into construction materials used to build roads.

The collaborative project, which received $2.98 million in federal funding through a Cooperative Research Centre Project (CRC-P) grant, is expected to address a gap in Australia’s current recycling infrastructure by developing technology to recycle paper and plastic.

Professor Nasser Khalili from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering said the project will aim to recover 3000 tonnes of material per year which would otherwise be exported as waste or landfilled.

“Australia disposes more than 4 million tonnes of plastic and paper waste each year at a cost of $600 million. Our current recycling infrastructure lacks capability and capacity, and instead relies on landfill and exporting waste,” he said.

“This project directly addresses the gap by developing technology to recycle these materials into materials which also have tremendous potential for commercialisation and international exportation.”

Project partners State Asphalts and Asphaltech will use the products for construction projects, with Closed Loop and Primaplas to source waste materials and distribute recycled products.

The UNSW research on the project is led by Professor Khalili along with Dr Ailar Hajimohammdi and Dr Babak Shahbodagh.

Professor Khalili said the project would advance new pathways to addressing Australia’s recycling capability and capacity through developing value-added products to the competitive advantage of Australian road construction industry.

“The solutions developed will accelerate the transformation of plastic and polymer-coated paper waste to high-end, safe and marketable products with enhanced engineering properties,” he concluded.