> The initiative
Soft plastics account for approximately 25 tonnes of Deakin’s waste to landfill each year and include items such as shrink wrap, plastic bags, and food wrappers. With Deakin committed to working towards zero waste to landfill by 2030 by applying circular economy principles, Deakin’s use of sustainable asphalt product Reconophalt has offered a sustainable, circular and effective solution to reducing this waste stream.
In 2020, Reconophalt (a Downer product) was used to build the 350 metre Nicol Drive North road extension at the Waurn Ponds Campus. The asphalt used in this stretch of road included 165,000 plastic bags/packaging equivalents, toner waste from 3,700 toner cartridges, and 41 tonnes of reclaimed asphalt (see video).
Choosing Reconophalt enabled Deakin to establish a unique and sector-leading partnership with Close the Loop, the Melbourne based recycler who provide the recycled soft plastics as an additive for Reconophalt. Through this partnership, the University can recycle up to 25 tonnes/year of soft plastics for use in sustainable asphalt, which can then be bought back for use on-campus. Deakin has now also specified Reconophalt for the Epworth Place Roadway Extension and Deakin’s Design Standards have been updated to include sustainable asphalt products for other future road works.
While implementing the new soft plastics collection and recycling program, Deakin conducted a comprehensive review of soft plastic waste within the logistics warehouses (mail and incoming goods), School of Nursing simulation centres, and the Institute of Frontier Material (IFM) labs. This identified a range of soft plastics and other items to be recycled through the program. From the School of Nursing alone, 84,000 latex and nitrile gloves will be diverted from landfill each year. As the success of the collections from these locations are proven, Deakin will expand the soft plastics collections to other areas of the University.