Earlier this month Cacti Conserve had the opportunity to participate in the Greener Infrastructure Conference hosted by Ecologiq at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The 2 day event united infrastructure builders with experts in the circular economy, with the aim of delivering purposely greener projects.
Across the state we are seeing landmark infrastructure projects improving the safety and connectivity of our communities under Victoria’s Big Build. Level crossing removals, new rail and road tunnels, regional airport rail projects, and new freeway links are making vital improvements to the functionality of our growing cities, and generate thousands of local jobs. But what impact are they having on the environment?
You are probably aware that many of the required components of a major infrastructure project come with a significant cost to the environment. Concrete and steel traditionally require huge amounts of energy and therefore produce vast emissions, and along with aggregates and ballast are all conventionally mined / quarried from the earth – creating ecological disruption, and various by-products. But thanks to the innovative approach of our local industry leaders, many of these components can now be substituted or supplemented with recycled materials. In addition, recycled plastic, glass, tyres, and textiles are all making a dent in the metaphorical footprint of or major infrastructure projects.
Under the Recycled First Policy all tenders on Victorian major roads have to demonstrate how they will optimise the use of recycled and reused materials, effective March 2020. Using recycled materials in major projects;
- Reduces societies waste burden through circular economy practices.
- Establishes commercial waste recovery processes – giving value to recyclable waste.
- Reduces virgin material demand and the associated depletion of natural resources.
- Reduces emissions caused by material manufacturing and transport.
- Drives local innovation and provides local jobs.
The conference, attended by almost 1000 people, showcased 35 suppliers – leading the field in their use of recycled materials, project waste capture and post build environmental rehabilitation. The event MC Tim Flannery opened the formalities and event gave Cacti Conserve a plug in his opening speech! Also presenting among many industry experts were, Major Road Projects Victoria CEO Allen Garner, and Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport Jacinta Allen both speaking on the present waste crisis and governments’ commitments to incentive effective solutions.
In the Trade Hall project leaders, contractors and designers engaged with exhibitors and developed relationships with prospective suppliers. Cacti Conserve’s Eco Barricade Products received plenty on interest and we were able to connect with builders from across the nation – all looking for greener site safety products. While at the event we also built relationships with some other exhibiting social enterprises including; OC Connections – providing support and employment for Australians living with disabilities, CERES Fair Wood – supplying milled salvage timber, and Social Outcome Solutions – creating exchange and trade opportunities for social enterprisers.
Congratulations to Ecologiq for putting on such a productive and inspiring event – with collaboration and innovation we see a greener future for our infrastructure projects.