EPD Australasia

EPDs in Transport Infrastructure: A Path to Sustainability with NTRO

The National Transport Research Organisation (NTRO) is championing a resilient and sustainable future through innovative research and practical solutions to transport infrastructure challenges. Previously the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), NTRO now works across roads, rail, ports and airports.

With offices located around Australia and New Zealand, NTRO uses its world-class transport laboratories facility in Melbourne to drive the successful development of products, guidelines and specifications in transport infrastructure. Collaborating and working with all levels of government and the private sector, NTRO’s work results in better safety outcomes, more sustainable products, improved recycling and environmental outcomes, along with the next generation of material use and performance.

The NTRO has been undertaking Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of innovative road technologies as part of its holistic and integrated offering to government and industry. This led to NTRO producing its first Environmental Product Declaration for OmniGrip Direct.

NTRO innovation lab

We spoke to NTRO’s Brook Hall (Principal Professional Leader, Sustainability and Materials Performance) about how NTRO are leveraging their research to support customers in developing EPDs and his thoughts on the use of EPDs in the transport infrastructure industry.

How did NTRO become interested in producing EPDs?

Building upon our five years of experience conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for innovative road technologies, NTRO recognised that developing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) was a logical next step. We have been working with government state transport agencies to evaluate the environmental and sustainability benefits of new and recycled materials and manufacturing processes that can extend the life of an asset and reduce maintenance needs – delivering significant whole-of-life cost and carbon savings. Some innovations also help build resilience to climate change and natural hazard events. More recently we have been working with product suppliers who are keen to grow the commercial opportunities for their innovative products that incorporate recycled materials and/or use low-carbon replacement materials.

How do EPDs contribute to advancing sustainability goals within the transport infrastructure industry?

EPDs can demonstrate a product’s alignment with government’s decarbonisation and circular economy policy objectives. For instance, Victoria’s ecologiQ program is providing a strong policy direction, as well as industry education and support, to rapidly increase the amount of recycled materials used in the Big Build Infrastructure program. Similarly, Western Australia and Queensland are leading research and the development of technical specifications to facilitate recycled materials in transport infrastructure.

EPDs support these initiatives and the data contained in them can be used directly in life cycle assessment tools and carbon calculators – bringing EPD products to the forefront of infrastructure planners and designers and providing assurances to engineers and environmental assessors.

Is there a growing interest among your clients for EPDs?

Yes. The transport infrastructure sector is highly competitive and there are many suppliers of similar products. Product suppliers are looking to differentiate their products on the basis of quality (i.e. longevity) and environmental benefits (i.e. primarily low carbon). EPDs are relatively new in the infrastructure space and provide a trusted source of verification of a product’s environmental credentials. This can be a competitive advantage as governments and contractors seek to deliver ever improving environmental outcomes on projects.

How did the NTRO contribute to the creation of an EPD for OmniGrip Direct’s Hybrid HF?

We worked with OmniGrip Direct to develop an Environment Product Declaration for the world’s first hybrid High Friction Surface Treatment (HFST), OmniGrip Hybrid HF, comprising 60% post-consumer recycled-glass.

OmniGrip Direct applies specialist slip and skid-resistant surfaces to reduce the risk and severity of crashes on roads, paths and in buildings, reducing injury and death on roads and in workplaces. Their recycled-glass surface treatments provide safe, compliant and durable surfaces with reduced lifecycle costs.

The NTRO worked with OmniGrip Direct – with financial support from Sustainability Victoria – to develop and test an optimised product mix incorporating recycled-glass and a cost-effective hard aggregate. We used our world-class materials testing laboratory to prove the effectiveness of the mix and product quality. We then embarked on developing the EPD to provide product transparency and assurance on the product’s environmental credentials. The data can be used by road managers to help meet recycled material and social procurement targets and the EPD can be used to help gain credits under the IS Rating Scheme.

What are your observations regarding the trends shaping the adoption of EPDs in the transport infrastructure sector?

EPDs are still fairly limited in the transport industry. Some of the larger material suppliers (particularly those with experience in the building sector) have produced EPDs and new EPD products are emerging all the time. Thanks to supportive government policy directions, research grants and infrastructure sustainability ratings, product innovation in the transport infrastructure sector is accelerating and the industry is poised to significantly grow its embrace of EPDs.

Do you have other EPDs in the pipeline?

Yes! We’re working with industry partners to achieve EPDs for end-of-life tyres, recycled plastic (LDPE, such as supermarket shopping bags), low-carbon concrete, and additional HFST products from the extended OmniGrip product line. These products have uses across road, rail, port and airport infrastructure.

Further information

Latest News

EPDA Welcomes Three New Independent Verifiers

EPD Australasia is pleased to announce the approval of three new independent verifiers for our programme. We congratulate Lindita Bushi, PhD, Viktor Hakkarainen,...

Rule Changes for EPDs for Construction Products

Changes to rules regarding multiple sets of results for construction products included in the same EPD Under our partnership agreement with the International...

Australian Government’s new Procurement Policy

EPD Australasia welcomes the release of the Australian Government’s Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Policy (ESPP) as a significant step in Australia’s progression towards a...

Subscribe to our newsletter

© Copyright 2023 EPD Australasia Ltd | 681 Web - Build • Host • Manage | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions