‘Recycled-First’ construction policy highlighted as hero campaign for circular economy development in Victoria

    By Hayley Webb  April 22nd, 2024

    The policy focusing on integrating recycled materials into substantial government building projects has seen a significant increase in demand for recycled masonry materials.

    The inaugural Circular Economy Market Report has found the ‘ecologiQ’ initiative, which ensures recycled materials are used for road bases and concrete in large construction projects, has been hugely successful in encouraging circular economy procurement.‘Recycled First’ is a first of its kind policy, for Australia and requires tenderers and contractors to commit to the use of recycled materials.

    “The aim of ecologiQ is to integrate recycled and reused content across Victoria’s transport infrastructure projects and making the use of greener materials business-as-usual" details the report.

    A successful 'Recycled First' project saw approximately 100,000 tonnes of recycled dirt, rock and clay excavated from one site and used on another project.A level crossing removal now makes the foundations of freeway ramps and embankments – most of these materials would previously have gone to landfill and it negated the need for new materials to be quarried.

    The initiative is well supported by industry, government, regulators and technical support to help meet the requirements of the policy.

    Further movements towards a circular economy 

    The Circular Economy Market Report aimed to provide information on the generation, collection, sorting, re-processing, or re-manufacturing of waste within Victoria’s circular economy market. 

    In addition to the key finding that recycled-first policies like ecologiQ can be successful in encouraging procurement of recycled materials, the report also noted recycling needs to be a key consideration from the start of the building design process to promote the reuse of materials and management of the quality of recycled materials (especially contaminated soils) in the construction sector.

    The importance of collaboration for an effective circular economy is also reiterated in the report, highlighting the shared responsibility across both state and federal governments, industry, waste management and the community to achieve the state net-zero target by 2045.

    As highlighted in the report: “To create a circular economy, systematic changes are needed at all stages of the supply chain, from production design to disposal: From waste to value, Victoria is using this pathway to grow a cleaner and smarter State.”

    Moving forward, tactics being implemented to better understand material flow included; better waste data-systems for improved decision making and individual material stream recovery rates to better monitor Victoria’s material circularity. 

    Textiles, plastic and tyres were identified as the most challenging to date with a dedicated focus on these being employed moving forward.The report also identified emerging problematic materials to address as batteries, wind-turbines and photovoltaic panels (solar).

    Access Victoria’s Circular Economy Market Report 2024 for more insights into the development of the circular economy in the region.

    Hayley Webb

    After 6 years leading and developing marketing teams Hayley’s learning journey into sustainability and climate change education began and she was hooked! Being in boardrooms where sustainability wasn’t on the agenda built her passion for making sustainable business accessible for all with education that simplifys the science. When she’s not at Planet Ark Hayley is delivering Carbon Literacy Training, making Instagram reels, sourcing preloved outfits and hanging out in nature with her young family.

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