An open market tender was released Tuesday to collect recycled materials such as crushed glass destined for use as road base by 15 councils in the south Sydney region.
The initiative Paving the Way aims to use nearly 100 million glass containers per year that might otherwise end up in landfill.
The tender contract is set to become the largest local government-led procurement of recycled road-making materials in NSW history.
Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils
(SSROC) initiated the program on behalf of it 15 council members representing over 1.9 million people.
SSROC president, Councillor John Faker said participating councils were using their purchasing power to accelerate the growth of a “fledgling industry” and will create a model for other councils, government agencies, and industry to follow.
The initiative is a first for the councils after signing a Procure Recycled memorandum of understanding (MoU) in November 2019.
The MoU was created in response to China’s National Sword policy, which blocked imports of Australia’s recyclable materials, and the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) decision to ban exports of unprocessed recyclable materials.
Eligible materials covered in the tender must contain the allowable percentage by volume of recycled crushed glass based on Transport for NSW specifications.
Cr Faker said a major problem was the lack of viable end markets for recyclable materials, which “threatens kerbside recycling services, increases price pressure for councils and residents, and threatens to lose valuable resource to landfill.
“Local governments, especially through a joint collaborative approach, are in a strategic position to support and create end markets for products with recycled content and safeguard the future resilience of regional resource recovery systems by supporting key infrastructure.”
Cr Faker said while it is difficult to estimate the specific impact of this initiative on jobs, sourcing products with Australian recycled content supports onshore manufacturing, processing, and kerbside recycling collections as it increases the value of these materials, “not as waste but as resources.”
“We expect it will lead to more job growth in future as more councils join the contract or adopt a similar approach. This is a good example of triple bottom line benefits – environmental, economic and social.”
SSROC hopes to combine the demand for asphalt and concrete with recycled crushed glass, to cost-effectively obtain materials and services for councils through competitive pricing.
This in turn will hopefully create a favourable environment for industry to invest in long-term jobs and infrastructure capacity to meet ongoing demand.
Open to all eligible NSW suppliers, the tender is looking for a supply of asphalt plus non-structural concrete.
The tender is part of the SSROC’s plan to usher in a new era of sustainable infrastructure using recycled crushed glass to replace natural sand in roads and footpaths in line with Transport for NSW and AUS-SPEC specifications.
According to SSROC, Paving the Way is also set to build a new market for glass or roughly one-third of these councils’ household glass recycling collections, without compromising existing recycling of glass into beverage containers.
While there is no set date yet in place, the expected start date is March 2021 with a lead time to July 2021 for the scheduled provision of materials and services.
“This is a game-changer that puts every household on the frontline of a stronger, more sustainable society and reinforces the critical role played by the community in separating their recycling,” Cr Faker said.
About 30 per cent by weight of all domestic recyclables collected is glass, according to SSROC quoting data from material recovery facilities.
Government and industry data support the viability of recycled crushed glass as an alternative to natural sand in civil construction works such as roads and pathways, Cr Faker said, but of there are not sufficient end markets for recycled glass, councils will be required to pay higher gate fees, potentially losing glass to landfill.
He said about 60 per cent of SSROC domestic glass collections can be recycled into glass bottles, while the remaining 40 per cent can be recycled into secondary uses, such as civil work. This demonstrated that glass to produce recycled crushed glass will not adversely impact higher-order uses.”
The request for tender was released on 1 September and will remain open until 13 October.
The resulting contract will be for an initial period of three years with an option extension of 1+1 years, with contract works to commence on 1 July 2021.
Early contractor involvement took place in August to inform and consult with industry on a collaborative procurement model to encourage innovation and best practice.