• RAAF WIlliams in 2012. (Defence)
    RAAF WIlliams in 2012. (Defence)

Every year, millions of tonnes of hard waste from construction projects end up in landfill contributing to Australia’s global carbon footprint. Recently, the Aurecon Project Delivery Services (PDS) team working on the Defence Estate Works Program’s upgrade of the RAAF Williams Point Cook base carparks and pavements helped reduce that by designing innovative measures to introduce recycled materials into the new infrastructure.

Aurecon Senior Program Advisory Consultant, Ryan Chirgwin, said Defence’s brief and scale of the project prompted the team to look for ways to help the environment and drive down project costs for Defence.

“The aging 1600 square meter car park and surrounding pavements needed to be resurfaced, repaired and reconstructed to ensure ongoing Defence capability, and the safety of staff coming to and from site. The project was also required for public safety as community members visit the RAAF Museum onsite,” Ryan said.

“Early on in the project we realised the considerable amount of concrete waste that would end up in landfill. So instead, the team designed a process to crush 210 tonnes of material on site to be reused as sub-base for the carpark in the construction works.

“Through collaboration with industry partners we also integrated the use of an asphalt product that contained a large amount of recycled plastic into our design which further reduced environmental impacts. In total, we used approximately 80 cubic metres of the product, which equates to recycling approximately 600kg of plastic, the equivalent of preventing 120,000 plastic bags going to landfill.

“Not only were these innovations environmentally safe and sustainable, it lowered project costs for Defence by reducing the materials we needed to order and transport,” he said.

Defence's Assistant Director of Environmental Resource Management and Sustainability, Judi Barton, said the work done on the RAAF Williams Point Cook project is part of Defence’s commitment to the Australian Government’s National Waste Policy.

“Defence delivers the recycling requirements for its infrastructure program through implementation of the Defence Waste Program, which aims to deliver the policy requirements of the Defence Environment and Heritage Manual and the Smart Infrastructure Handbook, which sets the minimum requirements for the consideration of sustainability,” Barton said.

“This project is a small example of the considerable attention Defence and its industry partners are placing on reducing waste to landfill and forging a more sustainable circular economy. Increasing the amount of recycled content in goods and infrastructure procurement where fit-for-purpose products are available is key to building a more sustainable Defence Estate.

“The work Aurecon and other industry partners are doing at Point Cook and at other bases across our Estate demonstrates progress, but there’s a lot more to be done,” she said.

“The success of this project has been dependent on the trust and deep collaboration between industry and Defence. Without that, we wouldn’t be able to do change the way we work together,” Aurecon Defence and National Security Programs Industry Director, Adam Rankin, said.

“Defence owns an enormous amount of assets and land. Through similar ways of working, there’s great potential to accelerate sustainable infrastructure at scale."

The project at RAAF Williams Point Cook base is expected to be completed shortly.

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