Trains travelling through Richmond in Victoria will now be running on railway sleepers made from recycled plastic.
Victorian Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio and Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne were at Richmond train station to see the first of 200 sleepers being installed as part of an 18-month trial.
Produced in Mildura by Integrated Recycling, the Duratrack sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste, including cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers all sourced in Australia.
The recycled sleepers have a potential lifespan of up to 50 years, are half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and require far less maintenance.
The government invested $630,000 through grant programs delivered by Sustainability Victoria to make the project a reality.
For every kilometre of track installed, 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill will be recycled.
“This project is a great example of the circular economy we’re creating through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.
The ground-breaking product is the result of more than two years of research and product development led by Integrated Recycling and Monash University, with the sleepers already up and running at four Victorian tourist railways including the iconic Puffing Billy.
The introduction of the new sleepers, which are approved for use on Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, are in relation to environmental requirements included in the government’s current contract with Metro Trains.