A suburban road in Penrith has become the first in Australia, to include recycled coffee cups in its construction. The fibres in the cups are a valuable additive that helps create a superior, more durable product, quieter and safer than regular asphalt.
The more sustainable asphalt, known as PAK-PAVE™ Roads, has been developed by State Asphalts NSW in conjunction with Closed Loop Environmental Solutions who operate the Simply Cups paper cup recycling program. The development of PAK-PAVE™ Roads was facilitated through the Commonwealths Cooperative Research Centres Program Grant, involving the University of NSW and has been sanctioned by the NSW EPA and Transport NSW.
The pilot project for PAK-PAVE™ Roads will take place along a section of Jamison Road at South Penrith, to be followed soon after by a second at Swallow Drive, Erskine Park. These two projects will utilise over 135,000 recycled paper cups including coffee cups, which is 85% of the paper cups collected for recycling in the Penrith LGA in 2022.
In addition to the recycled paper cups, the two PAK-PAVE™ Roads will utilise other recycled materials including the equivalent of 1.2 million glass stubbies, together with Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement, Steel Furnace Slag. Collectively, these materials will comprise more than 50% of the materials used.
Sustainability benefits of the PAK-PAVE™ Roads include:
- Using recycled paper cups as a beneficial additive
- Improved pavement durability and crack resistance
- Improved wet weather skid resistance and reduced noise levels from surface texture
- Improved durability of Stone Mastic Asphalt allows thinner surfacing of roads; where thickness can be reduced the cost per m2 of pavement is also reduced
- Less raw materials are required
- 24% reduction in carbon footprint
These PAK-PAVE™ Roads in Penrith are true examples of the circular economy in action, where items that were once destined for landfill have been captured and utilised as a beneficial additive, to make a high-quality product that displaces the use of less sustainable raw materials.
John Kypreos, Director of State Asphalts NSW said “I’m incredibly proud of the team at State Asphalts NSW and our collaborating partners, who have worked tirelessly over the past 3 years to develop PAK-PAVE™ Roads.”
“We have enjoyed great support from government at all levels to get to this point and congratulate Penrith Council for being the first to use PAK- PAVE™ Roads.”, said Mr. Kypreos
Penrith Mayor, Tricia Hitchen, said Council is proud to be leading the way in a move that leads to a more sustainable circular economy and delivers a high-quality road surface for all road users.
“Council has a proven track record when it comes to re-using waste products in innovative ways and this is yet another way of reducing landfill by giving a waste product new life in an alternative use,” Cr Hitchen said.
“With over 1,208 km of roads maintained by Penrith City Council, and countless kilometres of state roads in our LGA, we have the opportunity to make our roads far more environmentally friendly than first thought through the use of recycled materials.”
“The new surface offers improved braking and wet weather performance.” Cr Hitchen said.
“It is exciting to be delivering a practical circular economy solution in partnership with Closed Loop, and we hope that other councils and state governments will start specifying PAK-PAVE™ Roads, both as a high-quality road surface and a product that uses a high percentage of recycled materials”, said Mr Kypreos.
Closed Loop MD, Rob Pascoe, was equally enthusiastic.
“The Simply Cups program has saved more than 30 million paper cups such as coffee cups and take-away soft drink cups from landfill since beginning in 2017,” said Mr Pascoe.
“We have explored dozens of practical applications for the cups which contain very high-quality fibre but are challenging to recycle because of their waterproof lining.”
“While we have multiple avenues for the recycled cups, including light weight concrete products and construction boards, PAK-PAVE™ Roads is a fantastic solution because it uses such large quantities.”
There are currently more than 630 7-Eleven stores that have cup collection units as well as collection locations in numerous shopping centres, office buildings, schools and universities. Locations can be found on the Simply Cups website (simplycups.com.au/locations) or on the free RecycleMate app.