A suburban road in Penrith has become the first in Australia, to include recycled coffee cups in its construction, after three years of research and development. 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 Commonwealth’s 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, representing 85 per cent 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 and steel furnace slag. Collectively, these materials will comprise more than 50 per cent of the materials used.
Penrith Mayor, Tricia Hitchen, said with over 1,208 km of roads maintained by Penrith City Council, and countless kilometres of state roads in the LGA, there is an opportunity to make 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.
Closed Loop MD, Rob Pascoe said 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.
“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.