Sydney Council is making roads out of printer cartridge toner

City of Sydney uses around 6000 tonnes of asphalt annually. Photo Jamie Williams/City of Sydney.

Old cartridge toner is being used to colour roads around Sydney as part of a bold experiment in recycling by the city council.

The City of Sydney has already trialed painting some roads white in a bid to reduce temperatures in the city, and now it’s trying to cut carbon emissions by using recycled materials in the asphalt mix it uses for road resurfacing.

The product, dubbed “TonerPave”, was developed by the City’s road contractor, Downer EDI, in partnership with cartridge recycling company, Close the Loop.

Downer’s infrastructure services CEO Sergio Cinerari, said toner powder which contains comparable particles to asphalt, which in turn reduces the bitumen, a crude oil derivative, required in the mix.

“We work closely with Close the Loop who collect and recycle huge quantities of toner cartridges for large printer and copier companies,” Cinerari said. “The cartridges are then shredded for recycling and the toner powder comes to us to be made into TonerPave at our Rosehill plant.”

The other critical innovation is that the mix is warmed to a temperature 20-to-50°C lower than regular asphalt, reducing carbon emissions by up to 40%.

Around 20,000 tonnes of cartridge waste has been recycled in asphalt across Australia since the initiative began in 2012.

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