Every two-lane kilometre of road containing Reconophalt has the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and waste toner from 12,500 printer cartridges.
TonerPlas, the main ingredient in Reconophalt, is made by Australian recycling resource recovery company Close the Loop. Reconophalt is a collaboration between road-layer Downer and Close the Loop, with soft plastics supplied to Close the Loop through the RedCycle and Plastic Police collection programs.
- TonerPlas is created by Close the Loop – an Australian company with operations also in Europe and the US.
- The TonerPlas is then provided to Downer for inclusion into its asphalt mix to make a superior bitumen road.
- Redcycle coordinates the soft plastic collections through Coles and Woolworths supermarkets nationally.
- Plastic Police conduct soft plastic collection programs through schools and Councils.
TonerPlas is an additive for bitumen roads that utilises soft plastics and waste toner from printer cartridges. The additive improves the characteristics of asphalt to build higher quality longer lasting roads.
Reconophalt is cost-competitive with conventional asphalt.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the unique formulation improves the properties of the bituminous binder, creating a superior road with a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life over standard asphalt.
Roads made with the TonerPlas additive provide a superior resistance to deformation, handling extreme heat, cold, and heavy vehicular traffic significantly better than traditional roads.
Waste soft plastics are collected through the RedCycle program, which has collection bins located in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.
Waste toner is sourced from the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program as well as other printer manufacturer branded takeback and recycling programs.
Close the Loop has been the resource recovery partner of ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ since its inception in 2003.
Close the Loop processes the recycled plastics and waste toner into pellets.
They are then melted into the asphalt mix to become intrinsically part of the matrix of the bituminous binder – the ‘glue’ that bonds and waterproofs roads.
Once incorporated into the asphalt mix, it’s impossible for the plastics to separate out, so there are no microbeads that can leach from the wearing of the asphalt.
Downer and Close the Loop have undertaken extensive testing, which confirm that the number of organic particles released during a leaching/wearing test is significantly less than standard asphalt.
In fact, Reconophalt showed a better result than standard asphalt, releasing significantly fewer organic particles than standard asphalt.
This could be explained by the improved strength, binding and adhesion that the TonerPlas additive (the main ingredient in Reconophalt) provides to bitumen.
The largest source of micro plastics from roads is tyre wear.
The collection and sorting process of recycling glass generates crushed glass (glass fines), which is unsuitable for re-manufacture into glass containers.
Reconophalt contains glass fines – the residue which remains after the high value glass is optically sorted. Glass fines normally end up in landfill as sand. Utilising recycled glass as a sand replacement in making asphalt makes sense because it is dry unlike sand which inherently carries moisture which needs to be dried. The drying requires heat and energy meaning glass is a perfect replacement that lowers greenhouse gases.
The advantage of using TonerPlas in Reconophalt is that it can withstand extreme heat conditions without loss of performance. Laboratory tests have proven that it will perform perfectly if global warming increased up to 6C. Close the Loop and Downer have undertaken extensive testing on the performance of Reconophalt under various conditions.
Reconophalt provides a superior resistance to deformation, handling both extreme heat and cold significantly better than conventional asphalt.
There is no difference in the road laying process or the fumes generated using the Reconophalt mix over standard asphalt.
The manufacturing process of TonerPlas has very minimal fumes and once the TonerPlas additive is mixed into the Reconophalt asphalt mix it looks, smells and behaves exactly the same way as standard asphalt.