How Cartridges 4 Planet Ark is part of the solution to plastic pollution
Author: Claire Bell
In a new initiative, toner from printer cartridges collected via our Cartridges 4 Planet Ark recycling program around Australia can now be mixed with soft plastic and stockpiled glass to make a new road surface. It’s not only diverting waste from landfill but is also up to 65% more durable than normal asphalt!
Close the Loop has engineered an additive called TonerPlas™. This uses waste printer cartridge toner, collected via the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program and soft plastics collected via the RED Group program. This additive is provided to road construction company, Downer Group, who then incorporate TonerPlas™, stockpiled glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) to create a road surface that increases fatigue life to 65%, making it more durable than normal asphalt.
The first site for the surface is in Craigieburn in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, with another site scheduled in Sydney for July, and it is hoped that councils around Australia will use TonerPlas™ as a sustainable road surface and as part of the solution to turn waste into recycled products.
The figures are impressive, just 1km of TonerPlas™ uses the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottle equivalents and 12,500 used printer cartridges. It also uses 134 tonnes of reclaimed asphalt and has a total 25% recycled material content.
"Our close partnership with Downer and RED Group has allowed us to work collaboratively to improve the way we design and manufacture sustainable outcomes for waste that has meaningful uses. We are very pleased to set yet another industry benchmark, seeing soft plastics used for the first time in an Australian road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.
The collaboration between Downer, RED Group and Close the Loop, along with product stewardship programs like Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, provides a leading example of how innovative solutions to waste can be developed (urgently needed in the wake of the China Sword policy) and implemented, on a sustainable and economically viable scale, to benefit communities and the environment across Australia.