Dungog's main street makeover using recycled content

Dowling Street work paves way for sustainable future

Dungog shire residents may one day be walking on the very takeaway coffee cups they diligently collect as Australia's first rescue cup town.

The town is part of the coffee cup rescue project to find a new use for the 100,000 takeaway coffee cups used in the shire each year.

While it's not the collected coffee cups used in the major makeover of Dungog's much maligned main street, the work does feature the use of recycled material.

The council believes the work at the Mackay Street intersection paves the way for greater sustainability in its future projects.

The intersection's work involved innovative Downer Group technology, Reconophalt, which is Australia's first asphalt that contains high recycled content from materials such as soft plastics, print cartridge toner, glass and reclaimed road.

Council's Executive Manager Infrastructure and Assets, Steve Hitchens, said council is continually looking for ways to deliver its essential works more efficiently and effectively.

"The use of Reconophalt in the Dowling Street / Mackay Street works makes sense from both an economic and environmental perspective," he said.

"Council used around 590 tonnes of asphalt across an area of approximately 1200 square metres in completing these works.

"One kilometre of two-lane road paved with Reconophalt can contain 500,000 plastic bag and packaging equivalents, 165,000 glass bottle equivalents and toner from 12,000 used printer cartridges.

"So, these materials that would usually be going to landfill are being repurposed instead.

"But not only that, research indicates other benefits of using Reconophalt include better resistance and an increased asset lifespan of an average three more years, creating greater longevity of our local road network."

The use of Reconophalt in the Dowling Street upgrade may be bringing the shire's sustainability efforts full circle, as council partners with global sustainability specialists, Close the Loop, for the collection of used coffee cups as an additive in the manufacture of bitumen across the nation.

In addition, council has been aggregating soft plastics for a few years now - a product that is also used in Reconophalt.

Council's Manager Environmental Services Paul Minett said thanks to the efforts of local community groups campaigning for a single use plastic free Dungog, council has been collecting soft plastics and disposable coffee cups through the Cup Rescue Project for purposes such as these.

"Our local community campaigners forged an alliance with Close the Loop to receive and repurpose the used disposable coffee cups in 2019, making Dungog Australia's first Cup Rescue town," he said.

"We have also collected around six tonnes of soft plastics in the past two years, which is upcycled into products such as furniture, parking bumps and asphalt additive.

"Council partners with the Cup Rescue program by transporting the disposable cups collected in Dungog Shire to the Hunter-wide collection point at Heatherbrae and interestingly, Downer Group also partners with Close the Loop to create its asphalt additives, so the very cups our residents are recycling could one day be paving the streets in which they walk."