TonerPlas® FAQs

TonerPlas® FAQs

What is TonerPlas®?

TonerPlas® is an engineered polymer compound used for improving asphalt (namely for road applications), and is manufactured from recycled post- consumer soft plastics, recycled oil,  and reclaimed toner from print cartridges. TonerPlas® is made from 100% recycled raw materials and is 100% recyclable at end of life.

It has the following benefits:

  1. Increases the performance and resilience of asphalt
  2. Increases the lifespan of asphalt
  3. Reduces the carbon footprint and increases circularity of asphalt
  4. Reduces whole of life cost of asphalt
  5. Is fully recyclable back into new roads at eventual road end of life

Does TonerPlas® align with the circular economy?

TonerPlas®  provides a more circular solution for problematic waste streams than what is currently available, and aligns with circularity in the following ways:

  1. Eliminating Waste: We turn used toner and complex soft plastic packaging into valuable roads, diverting it from landfills while replacing some of the virgin products used in asphalt specifications.
  2. Extending Material Lifespan: TonerPlas® keeps mixed plastics and oil products active in the economy by integrating them into durable roads, which is more circular than disposal and landfill.
  3. Regenerating natural systems: By preventing plastic from becoming litter and reducing the carbon footprint of roads, TonerPlas® has a positive impact on the environment compared to alternative measures.

In essence, TonerPlas® isn’t just compatible with a circular economy; it’s driving its progress, demonstrating how innovative recycling can create sustainable, long-lasting infrastructure.

Why does TonerPlas® use recycled soft plastics?

Technical Perspective: The polymers in mixed soft plastics are better suited to asphalt modification because they have a low melting point and better elasticity than conventional hard plastics.

Environmental Perspective: Flexible packaging is the fastest growing packaging category with the lowest recycling rate. Soft plastics are not represented in the kerbside recycling stream, and approximately 450,000 tonnes are landfilled in Australia per year. TonerPlas® provides a key end market for these problematic materials and a high- value recycled content product until our use of complex soft plastics declines.

How much plastic is used in TonerPlas® ?

Every 1 km of road* paved with TonerPlas® modified asphalt uses approximately:

  • 530,000 plastic shopping bag equivalents and
  • Waste toner from 12,500 printer cartridges.

* Top layer wearing course of a standard two lane suburban road

Where do the soft plastics used in TonerPlas® come from?

Close the Loop use soft plastics from retail store drop- off programs, from local council soft plastics recycling initiatives, as well as direct from key partners supply chains. With a focus on circular contracts, Close the Loop aim to take-back and recycle soft plastics from companies that then buy-back recycled content or more sustainable packaging products from us to create a circular economy.

Where does the toner in TonerPlas® come from?

Toner powder comes from printer cartridges, and Close the Loop are the world’s largest printer cartridge recycler. With over 60,000 collection points in Australia alone, we have partnered with Planet Ark and all the major print brands in order to recycle cartridges for any office, school, retailer, or other business without cost to consumers. Once cartridges arrive at Close the Loop, they are checked-in and data is captured before the cartridges are processed, and left over toner powder is extracted and separated for use in TonerPlas®.

Can't the plastic used in TonerPlas® be recycled back into food packaging?

No, the mixed post-consumer soft plastic packaging that are used in TonerPlas® have too much contamination from organic matter, inks and adhesives to be made back into food-safe packaging through a mechanical recycling process. These plastics have very few recycling options because it’s almost impossible to separate all the various material types used within the packaging layers. Improvements in technology and packaging materials will help increase the capability for packaging-to-packaging recycling of soft plastics in Australia, which will help balance our supply and demand for recycled content in packaging products.

How is TonerPlas® made?

Close the Loop’s advanced manufacturing line first removes contaminates from recovered materials, before mix-melting the materials in a large processing line and mixing in the toner, and finally cooling the material and pelletising it ready to be sent to an asphalt plant for use.

Do you use plastics direct from household recycling bins?

No. Your kerbside recycling collection is for predominantly rigid plastics such as PET bottles and HDPE milk cartons, which have established end markets and are easier to recycle, so these are not the focus of Close the Loop. Some rigid plastics are also not compatible with bitumen due to their higher melting point.

Does using TonerPlas® increase the risk of microplastics getting into our waterways and ocean?

No. The NSW EPA have approved an Order & Exemption (O&E) for asphalt produced by Downer containing TonerPlas® (called Reconophalt), which states that Reconophalt poses no increased risk of microplastics and leachate than a standard asphalt road. The NSW EPA conducted the harshest test regime ever seen in the Australian roads industry to complete this report. You can download a copy here.

What about leachate from asphalt, is it more toxic where TonerPlas® is used?

Leachate has also been tested by the NSW EPA (as above question references) and shown to be no more of a risk when using TonerPlas® than from a standard asphalt road.

Where has TonerPlas® been used?

TonerPlas® has been used in hundreds of road projects across Australia, including council roads for over 30 Australian councils and major freeway upgrades such as the M80 and Monash freeways in Melbourne.

Does Close the Loop test asphalt?

Our laboratory is equipped for developing polymer compounds and what we call rheological characterisation (looking at certain behaviours of asphalt binders at different temperatures, in order to understand their performance and effects on asphalt in comparison to standard bitumen). As TonerPlas® is added to asphalt at an asphalt plant, we rely on the partnership of an asphalt company or independent third-party asphalt testing labs for complete performance testing.

How is TonerPlas® used by asphalt companies?

TonerPlas® can be added to asphalt in a number of ways, however the most popular is the dry mix method with direct addition to an asphalt mix plant (eg. continuous drum or batch plant). In some circumstances, it may be beneficial to add TonerPlas® to the bitumen more like a conventional Polymer Modified Binder (PMB). TonerPlas® isn’t designed to entirely replace PMB, and instead used with the chosen binder for improved elasticity.

Can TonerPlas® be used by any asphalt company?

Yes- TonerPlas® is available to any asphalt company in Australia.

Do you export TonerPlas®?

We have not exported TonerPlas®at this stage, however as we have divisions located in Europe, North America, and South Africa along with strong supply chain links in Asia, we welcome international partnerships.

Does the asphalt production process need to be adjusted when using TonerPlas®?

No. TonerPlas® is designed to blend and homogenise into the asphalt and binder matrix under standard asphalt mix conditions. TonerPlas® is suitable for both hot and warm mix.

TonerPlas® was designed to enhance conventional bitumen such as C170 and C320. It was not designed to replace PMB grades. In some cases TonerPlas® may be used to offset a percentage of virgin polymers used in PMB’s (Polymer Modified Binder).

How recyclable is Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) that contains TonerPlas®?

When TonerPlas® is introduced into the asphalt mix, it melts and homogenises with, and becomes part of the binder matrix. Like other polymer modified binders (SBS and EVA), the polymers in TonerPlas® are thermoplastic and will re-melt in the binder matrix when RAP is reprocessed. The presence of polymer modified binder in the RAP does not necessitate changes to the RAP processing procedures. RAP with TonerPlas® is processed as per ‘AAPA Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) Management Plan’.


Does TonerPlas® affect the workability of asphalt?

Due to its effect of increasing binder viscosity, TonerPlas® may affect workability. Adjustment of the mix design may be required depending on the amount used and other mix design factors.

How does Close the Loop ensure the quality of TonerPlas®?

The infeed raw materials used to create TonerPlas® are characterised, homogenised, and come from known sources. The Close the Loop advanced manufacturing process ensures that the end product is of a highly consistent nature. During production, TonerPlas® is sampled daily and QC tested for critical physical properties that characterise its viscoelasticity to ensure that its behaviour in asphalt is consistent and predictable.

How does TonerPlas® fit into the Austroads system?

Austroads have recently released their Interim Guidelines for the Use of Recycled Waste Plastic in Local Government Road Surfacing Applications which can be downloaded here: https://austroads.com.au/publications/pavement/ap-g96-21

How can I order TonerPlas®?

Any asphalt company can use our product- contact info@tonerplas.com.au to discuss the use of TonerPlas® today.

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