Supermarket company Coles has partnered with recycling organisations RED Group and Replas to install a concrete slab carpark made partly out of soft plastics.
The carpark, under Coles Horsham, is the first commercial construction project in Australia to make use of Polyrok – a sustainable alternative to aggregate minerals used in concrete, such as stone.
The material is made from plastic bags and soft plastic packaging recovered from the REDcycle program and has the potential to divert 105,000 tonnes of soft plastics from landfill each year, if used in commercial concrete projects across Australia.
Coles State Construction Manager Victoria Fiona Lloyd said this was the first time the product had been used in a commercial environment.
“As one of Australia’s largest food retailers, we know how important it is to support initiatives that help to close the loop with soft plastics,” she said.
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“This project alone will help repurpose approximately 900,000 pieces of soft plastic, to be used in the carpark at the soon-to-be-competed Coles Horsham redevelopment.
“We’ve worked with RED Group, Replas and RMIT University throughout the whole development process and we’re excited to see how we can use this technology in more of our stores.”
Replas Joint Managing Director Mark Jacobsen said Polyrok reduces the carbon footprint due to the reduced thermal mass it provides.
“This tackles the plastic problem and climate change all while being fit for purpose. If innovative products like this were adopted in all buildings and car parks, the collective reduction in greenhouse gasses would be enormous,” Jacobsen said.
Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans welcomed the collaboration to find innovative and practical ways to reuse soft plastics.
“There is huge potential and opportunity for infrastructure projects to help us build a more circular economy,” Evans said.
“This is why the Federal Government has prioritised the development of new national standards and guidelines to encourage the use of recycled content in roads and other projects.”