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Could Empty Toner Cartridges Transform Britain’s Roads?
For decades, tarmac has been the go-to substance for building roads, footpaths and carriageways across the globe. In recent times however, environmental factors have led scientists and researchers to seek new, more eco-friendly forms of road infrastructure – with altogether varied results.
Now however, scientists in Australia believe they've developed an ecologically friendly asphalt mix that’s kind to the environment whilst being capable of reinforcing new and existing carriageways. The new substance, which contains a blend of recycled printer toner and oil, is thought to be 40% more energy efficient than current road surfacing, whilst offering the same level of strength and durability.
The material, which has been dubbed TonerPave by its developers, was created using special pellets of toner that are mixed with oil to create a strong, hard wearing substance. TonerPave has already been implemented in Sydney, where the Australian government hope to reduce emissions by 70% before 2030.
Current road surfaces predominantly have a lifespan of around 30 years, so if TonerPave is found to last longer than this, developers hope it will be adopted in Australia and beyond. According to researchers, it takes 100 recycled toner cartridges to produce a ton of eco-friendly asphalt, and TonerPave is currently produced at a rate of 14,500 tons per year – enough to cover 1,291,664 square feet.
Sergio Cinerari, Chief Operating Officer at Downer,the company behind TonerPave, said: “TonerPave is the next step in sustainable asphalt development. It utilises waste products from used printer cartridges and waste industrial oils. The addition of MTP in asphalt will reduce our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and gives Downer and our clients the opportunity to recycle waste toner into valuable road infrastructure.”
Whilst TonerPave is a long way from being widely used on Australian roads, the results from preliminary trials are encouraging, leading many to question whether the product will be adopted by other countries – including the UK – in the future.We hope so.
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Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Lee Coursey.