Recycled printer toner to be used in new road surface in Canberra – written by Katie Burgess


Roads ACT is trialing a carbon-reduced asphalt mix, using recycled toner cartridge powder. Photo: Graham Tidy

Recycled printer toner powder will be trialled in a new asphalt mix designed to reduce the ACT’s carbon footprint.
Kelleway Avenue in Nicholls was the first site in Canberra to be resurfaced with a low-carbon “warm” mix of about 30 per cent recycled materials on Friday.

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The new asphalt mix is being tested in Kelleway Avenue in Nicholls. Photo: Graham tidy

About 0.5 per cent of the mix was printer toner powder extracted from old cartridges, Downer EDI’s NSW/ACT general manager Gana Varendran said.The new asphalt mix is being tested in Kelleway Avenue in Nicholls.

The rest of the recyclable material is comprised of old bitumen, which Downer EDI mills and reuses.

The warm asphalt mix was also 40 degrees cooler than traditional hot road mix, meaning fewer emissions, Mr Varendran said.

It was also comparable in terms of cost and durability, he said.
“I always call it a win-win. There’s no cost differential. Geotechnically it’s the same performance … and you get the benefit of recycling,” he said.

For every tonne of the new asphalt mix used, about 14 kilograms of carbon dioxide would be saved from being produced, Roads ACT said.

Around 2.24 tonnes of carbon dioxide would have been created in the 160 tonnes of asphalt laid in Kelleway Avenue, it estimated.
Mr Varendran said the asphalt mix could contain up to 50 per cent recyclable materials in the future without compromising the quality of the road surface.

“When you go to really high levels of recycled content there’ll be some [cost] savings potentially too,” he said.
“Every road is a quarry and it belongs to the ACT government and the community, so why not use this, why not treat it as quarry because you’re reusing road you’ve paid for.”

Roads ACT program director for maintenance Peter Thompson said the organisation would follow up by testing the low-carbon asphalt on an arterial road.

But the availability of recyclable material in the ACT could limit how much reused content goes into the mix.

“We have thin pavements in the ACT and it just doesn’t give us a big enough quarry to build material out of, that’s one of the biggest limiting factors,” he said.

“Nevertheless we’re still keen to have a go. Anytime you’re able to save resources or reduce the amount of carbon that goes into the atmosphere, it’s a good result for the territory.”

Roads ACT has resurfaced 750,000 square metres of road in Canberra in the past six months.
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