First they perfected an asphalt formulation that recycles toner powder from binned cartridges to create longer lasting roads.
Now they have found a way to add plastic bags to the mix.
Melbourne-based resource recovery firm Close the Loop and their partners Downer plan an official launch this month for the new product, set to take many tonnes of plastic out of the waste stream.
“The plastic bags, when you add them with the toner, it actually enhances the properties of the asphalt that make it effective,” Close the Loop sales and marketing manager for Asia Pacific Peter Tamblyn said.
“It’s a very exciting development that we’ve been working on for 12 months.
“It’s about using soft plastic in the asphalt mix as an additional polymer.”
Soft plastics include items such as supermarket bags, cling wrap and bread packets.
The official launch is planned for the last week of May and a trial road-laying is set for Craigieburn, Melbourne.
The Downer-Close the Loop partnership has already racked up success with its TonerPave product – an asphalt mix that makes the most of used printer cartridges that have been handed in for recycling.
“Toner powder is actually a really high-grade engineering quality polymer or plastic,” Mr Tamblyn said.
“So asphalt requires some sort of polymer to help it bind and it helps bind the crushed rock and aggregate.
“Typically they used virgin polymers in asphalt. But we found we had this wonderful resource called toner powder and Steve Morriss, who started the company in 2001, always had a vision that you could reuse the toner powder in an asphalt mix of some sort.”
The company had spent 10 years on R&D around achieving a consistent quality product that would work effectively, he said.
“We add various things like waste engine oil and we formulate a product called MTP – modified toner polymer.
“That MTP is the key ingredient that gets mixed with the asphalt mix. It turns the road into a better road than virgin polymers.
“It is stiffer in hotter temperatures and more flexible at lower temperatures. It reduces rutting, because the road doesn’t get soft when it gets hot. You get less cracking and less maintenance required on the road.”
Mr Tamblyn said use of MTP in sealing produced a 30 per cent increase in fatigue life of the road.
“It’s really a great story, in fact, because we are taking a waste product that no one has ever been able to find a use for and have formulated a product that creates a better performing asphalt,” he said.
The first road to use TonerPave was laid in 2013 in the Hume local government area in Melbourne.
“Since then we’ve laid over 1000km of roads around Australia including projects in Noosa, Moreton Bay and Brisbane City Council area,” Mr Tamblyn said.
For more information about Close the Loop see: