Fact: Australians return 1.3 million pieces of soft plastic per day to REDCycle recycling bins.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the program, and soft plastic continues to be a big problem in the kerbside recycling system.
The good news is that a team of engineers at RMIT have managed to develop a concrete material made from lightweight recycled plastic.
Here’s the latest.
Soft Plastic Packaging Recycled into Sustainable Concrete
Earlier this year, it was announced that a team of engineers at RMIT, in partnership with Victorian recycling organisations Replas, RED Group and SR Engineering, had successfully made concrete out of soft plastics.
The engineering team, together with the three Aussie businesses, developed Polyrok – a plastic aggregate created from soft plastics. This aggregate was then added to the mix when concreting Coles Horsham’s car park and a footpath in Frankston.
On Tuesday, 10th November, Coles Horsham carpark became the first commercial installation in Australia to use Polyrok! The sustainable alternative to mineral aggregate in concrete using state of the art technology allowing 100% post-consumer soft plastics that are recovered from the REDcycle program to be used.
An Australian First
Although the project began in 2020, it wasn’t until January 2021 that the technology was used for the first time in Australia.
Mixing concrete and plastic is difficult, as the two don’t naturally bond. Replas and SR Engineering came to RMIT because of our unique facilities to develop the best way to bond the two components together.
Since the project began, the recycling companies involved in the project have diverted more than 1.3 billion pieces of soft plastic from landfill. There are hopes that the new material might be able to be used more widely in other concreting projects the future. Just some ideas include sound barrier walls around highways and bushfire shelters.