VIC recycled plastic noise walls specification approved

Victorians will soon reduce traffic noise and plastic waste after a new specification to allow recycled plastic noise panels was approved.

The game-changing specification follows the successful installation of the world’s first 75 per cent recycled plastic noise panels on the Mordialloc Freeway project. 

Major Road Projects Victoria (MRPV) is delivering this project and developed the specification with the Department of Transport and support from the Australian Road Research Board. 

The specification will ultimately allow for up to 100 per cent recycled plastic to be included in noise walls used in Victorian road projects. 

MRPV’s Director of Engineering, Dr Scott Taylor, led the development of the specification and described it as a wonderful example of Victoria’s circular economy in action. 

“The panels installed on the Mordialloc Freeway were made using 570 tonnes of plastic waste – around the same amount collected kerbside from 25,000 Victorian households in a year,” Dr Taylor said. 

“At the end of the panels’ design life, they can be recycled again to form new plastic products, including new noise panels.

“The successful installation of the revolutionary panels on the Mordialloc Freeway has paved the way for the new specification which will help future projects utilise recycled plastic in a way that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago.” 

The technical specifications include considerations such as acoustic performance, design life, structural durability, fire performance, UV resistance and graffiti removal. 

The performance-based specification helps to drive product consistency whilst defining the requirements that the finished product must achieve through a series of tests conducted to Australian and International standards.

“This is an exciting example of how we are seeking new ways to push the sustainability envelope and boost the use of reused and recycled materials on Victorian infrastructure projects,” Dr Taylor said.

 “We look forward to working closely with our project delivery partners to examine further opportunities for positive change.” 

MRPV was supported by the Victorian Government’s Ecologiq initiative to develop the new specifications. 

Ecologiq Director, Tony Aloisio, said it was an exciting development for the industry. 

“We’re working closely with delivery agencies to incorporate circular economy thinking and extend the use of recycled and reused materials in technical standards,” Mr Aloisio said. 

The Victorian Government’s Recycled First Policy is helping to leverage the success of projects such as the Mordialloc Freeway to deliver new innovations, as it requires bidders on transport projects to optimise their use of reused and recycled materials. 

“We are already seeing some impressive initiatives from the first projects procured under the policy, which shows the importance both government and the construction industry now place on sustainability,” Mr Aloisio said.

More than two and a half kilometres of recycled plastic drainage pipes will be used on Fitzsimons Lane, as well as along Hallam Road North.

The upgrade of Childs Road will feature almost two tonnes of plastic in its concrete paving works, while other projects could use recycled plastic fibre to reinforce non-structural concrete, crumb rubber in asphalt pavement and recycled plastic roadside seating. 

“Recycled content suppliers are finding innovative new ways to use plastic and crumb rubber, which will ultimately help divert vast sums of waste from landfill,” Mr Aloisio said. 

“We’re committed to making the use of such recycled materials business as usual and encourage the industry to keep finding new ways to use waste.” 

The Recycled First Policy will be implemented across all future Victorian Big Build projects as well as the Department of Transport’s projects from 2022. 

The new specification for plastic noise walls will be available to view online later this year.

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