Tram stop-the-waste platforms

The Victorian Government is reducing waste and promoting sustainability through the innovative use of recycled plastic in tram stops.

As part of the $2.1 million Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund, Sustainability Victoria recently awarded $300,000 to Monash University’s Institute of Railway Technology to develop new ways to turn recycled plastic into modular parts for tram stop platforms across Melbourne. 

In partnership with Yarra Trams, Integrated Recycling and Advanced Circular Polymer, the project will identify how reinforced recycled plastics can be used effectively to construct a modular platform that can be rolled out network-wide.

“Our team of researchers will look at a number of suitable options of recycled materials that can be manufactured into a prototype, which will then be trial assembled and load tested at the Institute of Railway Technology laboratories,” said the Institute’s Professor Ravitharan.

Integrated Recycling will manufacture and trial the modular elements for the tram stop platforms. 

“We’re delighted to collaborate in the development of future tram stops that will recognise the value in repurposing waste plastics in infrastructure applications,” said General Manager Stephen Webster.

Advanced Circular Polymer will supply recycled plastic from kerbside waste collections for use in production of the tram stop platforms. 

Managing Director Harry Way said the collaboration will explore new research and development to add value to recycled plastics through new product innovations. 

“Developing new value-added recycled products with advanced manufacturing is essential for the recycling sector to create demand and secure the supply chain for recycled plastics,” said Harry.

Modular, prefabricated recycled plastic parts are a tough, lightweight alternative to concrete stops. 

Using this innovative design will reduce disruption to traffic during construction and maintenance, lessen the impact of severe flash flooding events through better drainage, and ensure greater accessibility for people living with a disability. 

The modular parts will enable quicker, more cost-effective delivery of projects, providing lasting environmental and community benefits. 

Yarra Trams Chief Executive Julien Dehornoy said the partnership was just one example of how Yarra Trams is working to make its operations more environmentally friendly.  

“From all our trams being powered by one of Victoria’s largest solar farms, to recycled materials being utilised in infrastructure projects across the network, to the ongoing installation of solar panels and energy efficient lighting in our depots, we’re playing our part to create a greener and more sustainable Melbourne,” said Julien.

Plastic pollution is an urgent environmental problem. In 2014, Victoria recycled only 28 per cent of the 570,000 tonnes of plastic waste produced, with the rest going to landfill.

With more than 1,750 tram stops across Melbourne’s 250-kilometre tram network, using recycled plastic in tram stop construction is an important step towards reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste. 

To learn more about this project, visit the Monash Institute of Railway Technology website.

- SONYA MITHEN