Greener builds means jobs boost to Ballarat

Hundreds of tonnes of waste plastic has been saved from landfill and used in transport projects across Victoria, as a result of the Victorian Government's commitment to using local recycled materials and the combined efforts of 2 Ballarat businesses.

eMesh is made from 100% recycled polypropylene plastic and has been used to replace steel mesh in concrete for shared use paths across 22 Victorian road and rail projects and dozens of other infrastructure projects across Australia.

The recycled product is manufactured in Ballarat by Danbar Plastics for Enviromesh.

The eMesh is packed by McCallum Industries, an Alfredton-based disability support organisation and social enterprise that employs approximately 90 people with disability under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Recycled products like eMesh are keeping hundreds of tonnes of plastic out of landfill and significantly reducing the carbon footprint of projects – as well as creating jobs and investment in regional economies like Ballarat. The Recycled First Policy plays a crucial role in this, as it requires transport infrastructure contractors to optimise their use of recycled and reused materials.

It’s estimated 10 Victorian jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of waste material kept out of landfill. In the next decade, this should lead to 3900 new jobs.

Since it was introduced in 2020, Recycled First has led to 5 times more recycled materials being used than previous years – with 1.3 million tonnes being integrated on Victorian transport projects. The shift to recycled products is being driven by Victoria’s ecologiQ program, which is leveraging Victoria’s significant infrastructure investment to boost the use of recycled and reused materials, making these products business-as-usual and helping Victoria build local markets.

Innovative products like eMesh are key to this change. Supplier Enviromesh has already seen stronger demand, with 100% year-on-year growth for eMesh in recent years, attributed in part to the Victorian Government’s efforts in this space.

eMesh is an Australian innovation made from the second most commonly used plastic in the world, polypropylene, which also has the lowest recycling rate, estimated to be around 1 per cent. Beyond the benefits of diverting tonnes of plastic from landfill, eMesh is also easier and safer to use than traditional raw materials and is Australian made and owned, resulting in increased local jobs.

Danbar Plastics has partnered with McCallum Industries for more than 8 years to pack the finished eMesh for delivery across Victoria and Australia.

eMesh is used across 22 Victorian major infrastructure projects, with 10 more planned, including the Monash Freeway Upgrade, Barwon Heads Road Upgrade, Toorak Road, Kooyong and Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing level crossing removals and the Pakenham rail line upgrade.