Case Study: Circular Economy for soft plastics in Local Government
The Circular Economy is attracting the interest of local governments across the country. Some councils are appointing people to the role of Circular Economy Lead to take a more wholistic approach and some are just getting on with buying products containing recycled post-consumer waste.
City of Stonnington in Victoria has made Reconophalt containing TonerPlas the standard for all council roads in its LGA. TonerPlas contains 43% processed post-consumer soft plastics, and produces a higher performing, longer lasting road. This means the council will be buying back the soft plastics that were dropped in the REDcycle bins at Coles and Woolworth in their council area.
Lake Macquarie City Council (NSW) is also trialling Reconophalt as part of a more extensive project on recycled material in roads. At a recent seminar organised by the Australian Circular Economy Hub, Debbie O’Byrne, Circular Economy Lead at Lake Macquarie City Council, talked about the importance of applying a circular economy lens over all projects, as distinct from creating circular economy projects.
Mackay Regional Council has been buying bollards and signage containing recycled REDcycle plastic for several years. And this year the council bought a hand sanitiser station made with soft plastics to promote the value of recycling soft plastics to students at the Materials Recovery Facility, as well as educating the general Mackay community at various community expositions.
Inverell Shire Council (NSW) is another example of a council using infrastructure containing recycled REDcycle plastics. In this case, a fence has been created by linking recycled plastic bollards with a pipe.
Mornington Peninsular Shire Council (Vic) used Polyrok in two concrete footpaths during 2021. Polyrok is a replacement for mineral aggregate in concrete and is made from 95% REDcycle plastics. Frankston City Council (Vic) is also using Polyrok. The first concrete pour in South Australia using Polyrok was done by Campbelltown City Council. Blacktown City Council (NSW) has recently poured a concrete footpath 1.4 km long, using almost 13 tonnes of Polyrok, which contains the equivalent of 3.25 million plastic bags.
The City of Greater Bendigo released its Circular Economy and Zero Waste Policy in May 2021. This states that “the City will not fund the planning, purchase and use of new materials and goods (from non-recycled content or non-reused/refurbished) where viable reused, refurbished or recycled content containing alternatives exist”.
Scott Bryant, Circular Economy Coordinator with City of Greater Bendigo, says that “This policy supports the City’s wider push to develop a Circular Greater Bendigo. Building upon past ad-hoc purchases of recycled soft-plastic containing street- and park- furniture and the use of recycled content in road infrastructure, the City seeks to become a steady source of demand for circular products to encourage the emergence and normalisation of circular solutions in the region. Greater Bendigo is looking to close the loop between downstream circular economy solutions and the upstream manufacture of goods with recirculated materials.”