Community News

Reusing, recycling and regenerating: the road construction revolution

During last week’s National Recycling Week, Roads and Maritime Services highlighted the innovative measures it uses to minimise waste and reduce the environmental impact of the nation’s largest portfolio of infrastructure projects. Savings are being made on the $4.945 billion Woolgoolga to Ballina stage of the Pacific Highway upgrade, which employs a number of initiatives to shrink the project’s ecological footprint and maximise energy efficiency. Roads and Maritime Director of Northern Region John Alexander said these measures include harvesting waste water from work sites for dust suppression, using mulch for sediment controls, reusing rock and dirt cut from one site to fill other sections and fuelling a biomass-fired power generator with green waste. “More than 500 root systems and 800 timber pins left over from cleared trees have been reused to stabilise river banks and restore fish habitats while all site offices have a recycling bin system in place,” Mr Alexander said. These programs have recycled 6002 tonnes of asphalt, 8496 tonnes of concrete, 653 tonnes of steel and 885 tonnes of timber. The project has also reused 118,260 tonnes of mulch for erosion controls and biofuel power generation, while 247 tonnes of waste has been recycled. In addition, once complete the Woolgoolga to Ballina upgrade will reuse 14.3 million cubic metres of rock and dirt as fill to build other parts of the project. And the Pacific Highway isn’t the only project where Roads and Maritime is taking major steps to do the right thing by our shared environment. Mr Alexander said another brilliant innovation is the use of solar power at the Bolivia Hill upgrade on the New England Highway near Tenterfield. “These 36 solar panels generate about 18 kilowatts per day that feed into a battery bank storage unit,” Mr Alexander said. “This unit provides about 23 kilowatt hours of battery storage, which is enough to run the entire site compound, yet it fits in a shipping container and can be deconstructed for use on future projects. “All of these initiatives are proof that the NSW Government’s record infrastructure investment is not only good for the citizens of this state, but is also boosting innovation and use of green technologies.”