FIRST, recycled crushed glass was used as a replacement for virgin sand in civil works and 'greencrete' footpaths in Lake Macquarie.
Now, plastic bags and old printer toner cartridges are being added to recycled glass to help build roads across the Hunter and Central Coast.
Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser this week officially opened a $5-million overhaul of the Downer asphalt plant in Teralba.
The new equipment allows the plant to produce thousands of tonnes each year of sustainable road and pavement materials.
One of the key products to be manufactured at the site will be Reconophalt, a road-base alternative that uses processed soft plastics such as shopping bags and chip wrappers to act as a 'glue' that bonds and waterproof roads.
The soft plastics are collected through the RedCycle program, which has collection bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.
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Waste toner cartridges used in Reconophalt comes from the national Planet Ark recycling initiative.
Every kilometre of two-lane road made with Reconophalt contains the equivalent of 530,000 plastic bags, 168,000 glass bottles and 12,500 toner cartridges, a spokesperson for the council said.
Cr Fraser said the Downer facility opening bolstered Lake Macquarie's reputation for encouraging and embracing sustainable businesses and practices.
"I congratulate Downer on investing in new methods to close the loop on recycled materials," Cr Fraser said.
"In the past 12 months in Lake Mac, we've seen the introduction of recycled glass sand in council's civil works, a trial of recycled materials in concrete footpaths, and now this next step in our war on waste."
Downer executive general manager of road services, Dante Cremasco, said the use of recycled materials reduced the requirement for 'virgin' alternatives by one-third.
Testing of the new Reconophalt material showed it lasted longer and was less prone to deformation than traditional forms of asphalt, he said.