News, Road upgrades, Victoria

Up to 21,000kg of recycled plastic to be used in new Victorian roads

A new project will see recycled plastics incorporated into asphalt as a performance enhancer at 10 sites across Victoria.

The RMIT University-led project is being supported by the Australian Research Council, Austroads and 10 Victorian councils.

The new roads will feature recycled plastic from consumer and industrial waste, including notoriously stubborn soft plastics.

According to RMIT, Australians generate 2.6 million tonnes of plastic waste each year and landfill space is expected to reach capacity by 2025. “This project is helping to address an urgent challenge.”

Project lead, RMIT associate professor Filippo Giustozzi, said the team will also produce best-practice guidelines on the use of recycled plastics in asphalt roads.

Austroads chief executive, Geoff Allan, with RMIT associate professor Filippo Giustozzi.

“These guidelines will enable local governments, which control 80 per cent of the nation’s roads, to begin widescale adoption of this innovative recycling solution,” said Giustozzi from RMIT’s School of Engineering.

The City of Melbourne and nine suburban and regional councils will each have sections of recycled road up to 900 metres long paved over coming months.

Giustozzi added that the 10 project sites will use an estimated 21,000kg of recycled plastic, but there is the potential for this solution to be adopted more widely.

“If Australia’s 537 local governments each used a small amount of recycled plastic in the many roads they resurface each year, then nationally we’ll have created a large end-market for recycled plastic,” he said.

RMIT has conducted extensive laboratory studies for Austroads on the viability of the recycled plastic asphalt mixture, which it says proves it is a mechanically, chemically and environmentally sound alternative.

“The performance of roads can actually be improved with the additions of recycled material, such as plastic and rubber, to be more durable against traffic and resistant against ageing,” Giustozzi said.

The team’s latest study, funded by Austroads and published in journal Science of The Total Environment, found the recycled plastic asphalt mixtures had 150 per cent less cracking and 85 per cent less deformation under pressure testing than conventional asphalt.

“These studies tell us that adding specific types of plastic in the right way can generate greater rutting and fatigue resistance,” Giustozzi added.

“In some instances, the performance of the mix was similar to some of the more expensive polymers used in roads and substantially higher than conventional asphalt mixes.”

The partnership with Victorian councils and Austroads will now translate these findings into applied solutions that enhance the sustainability of our roads.

“This is a critical step in demonstrating the feasibility of this approach to tackling a problematic waste stream in Australia, while establishing a trusted network for plastics recycling in road applications,” Giustozzi said.

Austroads chief executive, Geoff Allan, noted increasing interest in exploring the viability of repurposing recycled waste plastic, and said Austroads was leading ground-breaking work to investigate the most suitable types of plastics for use in roads.

“This project builds on the work completed last year that confirmed recycled plastics can be successfully incorporated in road infrastructure without detrimental effects on the environment, the health and safety of the workers, or the future recyclability of plastic-modified asphalt,” Allan said.

“A major contribution of this project will be to develop evidence-based guidance that will provide certainty to road managers about the use of recycled plastics in road surfacing applications and thus lay the foundations for this solution to be embraced nationally.”

Along with Austroads, the collaboration includes Australia’s leading pavement authorities and specialists, including public works and building bodies, recyclers and contractors.

It will be coordinated under the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Transformation of Reclaimed Waste Resources to Engineered Materials and Solutions for a Circular Economy (TREMS).

Local government areas involved in the project are City of Melbourne, Banyule, Bayside, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Baw Baw, Latrobe, Casey, Mornington Peninsula and Wyndham.


  1. This is literally insane putting plastics in roads that wear away… And yen the plastics end up in the environment, waterways and finally the ocean, which already has an issue with micro-plastics. Talk about an ecological disaster!

    1. I agree with your above comment, but can you think of a better solution? Until plastics are phased out completely we are in a no win situation

  2. Bad bad bad idea. We get vanadium on the road due to wheel rims and there much harder than any carbon based plastic.
    This is micro airborne plastic.
    A new alien cancer wtf is wrong with all of you.
    Nature is for nature plastic is not.

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