The idea for this new sustainable solution came about following a chance encounter between a State Asphalts NSW director and a senior manager at circular economy solutions provider Closed Loop. Their casual discussion helped identify the synergies between the used coffee cups being collected in the Simply Cups recycling program with the material fibres needed for road resurfacing.
Technical insight from industry partners helped identify the different compounds in the glue and plastic used to create the waterproof layer in common coffee cups. Through this process they realised the compounds making the cup waste so difficult to recycle through existing methods, were features that made it attractive to asphalt production. Australian’s throw away 2.7 million coffee cups every day. In research conducted by Planet Ark in March 2022, 50 per cent of respondents incorrectly believed they could recycle coffee cups in regular household recycling bins. Due to the waterproof coating coffee cups need to be collected and managed separately.
“From that first conversation things just snowballed,” says James Ng, project manager for PAK- PAVE™ Roads.
State Asphalts NSW applied for a Commonwealth Cooperative Research Centres Program Grant and worked over three years with their partners including the University of NSW to mix and test their solution.
John Kypreos, Director of State Asphalts NSW said, “I’m incredibly proud of the team at State Asphalts NSW and our collaborating partners, who have worked tirelessly over the past 3 years to develop PAK- PAVE™ Roads.”
Sanctioned by the NSW EPA and Transport NSW, PAK- PAVE™ Roads are being piloted on three stretches of road in Penrith, Liverpool and Erskine Park. Through these three resurfacing projects it is estimated that over 135,000 recycled paper cups, the equivalent of 1.2 million glass stubbies, reclaimed asphalt pavement and steel furnace slag; have been diverted from landfill. Over half of the materials used were recycled, leading to a 24% reduction in its carbon footprint.
“While we have multiple avenues for the recycled cups, including light weight concrete products and construction boards, PAK- PAVE™ Roads is a fantastic solution because it uses such large quantities,” said Closed Loop MD, Rob Pascoe.
The new roads will be evaluated for performance until the end of year. A positive result could see PAK- PAVE™ Roads rolled out nationally and a lot more cups recycled.
Help reduce coffee cup waste
Keep a reusable coffee cup in your bag to avoid creating waste
Use Planet Ark’s recycling search tool to find drop-off points near you for coffee cup litter.
Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.