Ontario municipality using recycled materials for road

Ontario’s Durham Region is using recycled materials to rebuild a portion of road.

The region, which is east of Toronto, is ready to proceed with Phase 2 of an innovative project for a segment of Regional Road 18 in Clarington, between Concession Road 5 and the bridge south of Kendal. Portions of the roadway will be reconstructed as part of a pilot project incorporating the use of recycled materials.

This 3.6 kilometre stretch of Regional Road 18 requires reconstruction and strengthening but has remained a low priority for near term work as the road carries low daily traffic volumes. The one-time Federal Gas Tax funding in 2019 earmarked by Regional Council for capital projects provided an opportunity for upgrading this road using Regional Waste materials.

“We are proud to be exploring the use of recycled materials in our road reconstruction projects,” said Susan Siopis, Durham’s commissioner of works.

“This pilot will help define the potential for sustainable practices and determine the durability of roads that incorporate recycled materials. The opportunity to recycle waste in road construction is just one of the many ways Durham Region is leading the way in waste management.”

Split into two phases, this project reconstructed the north half of this road segment (Phase 1) using conventional techniques, while the southern half (Phase 2) will pilot the use of recycled material.

Phase 1, which was completed in the fall of 2021, used conventional reconstruction methods and materials. Construction for Phase 2 is planned for the spring and summer of 2022, pending Council approval.

Upon approval, this second phase will focus on the southerly section of the road and will include recycled waste materials for a beneficial new use. Recycled glass will be incorporated into the granular base and recycled plastics will be incorporated in the new asphalt.  

An estimated six tonnes of mixed plastic and 400 tonnes of recycled glass from Durham Region’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) will be used for the proposed second phase of this project. Additionally, 4.5 tonnes of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibres – made from recycled plastic would also be used in this second phase.

Regional Road 18 is the perfect testing ground for this innovative option of road reconstruction,” said Ramesh Jagannathan, director of transportation and field services for the municipality.

“Splitting the road segment in two phases will help clearly assess and evaluate the difference in performance between using conventional methods and recycled materials. We look forward to advancing this pilot project and contributing to a circular economy.”

This pilot project aligns with the  Region’s Long-term Waste Management Plan’s guiding principles to apply innovative approaches to regional waste streams to manage them as resources in a circular economy.

The region has the ability to incorporate an estimated 300 tonnes of mixed plastic, 240 tonnes of PET plastic and all recycled glass processed at Durham Region’s Material Recovery Facility through the Region’s annual road program.

This would reduce the amount of waste stored in regional facilities and decrease the amount of virgin material that is mined and trucked for road construction, such as aggregate materials. The use of plastics also has the potential to significantly increase the strength, durability and the overall lifecycle of the pavement structure in our road network.