The Government of Victoria in Australia has announced the installation of railway sleepers made from recycled plastic at Richmond station in Melbourne.

The move is part of the government’s sustainability efforts and will support the transition to a circular economy.

Richmond station was equipped with the first of 200 Duratrack railway sleepers as part of an 18-month trial programme.

Developed in Mildura by Integrated Recycling in collaboration with Monash University, the sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste.

They are manufactured at half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and have a lifespan of around 50 years and require less maintenance.

The railway sleepers are already installed and running at four Victorian tourist railways.

Victoria Minister for Public Transport Melissa Horne said: “It’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations.”

The state government said that for every kilometre of track laid with the recycled plastic railway sleepers, around 64t of plastic waste will be diverted from landfills.

Trials will evaluate the performance of these sleepers before a wider roll out across the Victorian railway network. Victoria has already invested A$630,000 through a grant programme administered by Sustainability Victoria towards the trial programme.

Victoria Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said: “We’re embracing new technology to tackle the problem of plastic pollution in our community.”

“This project is a great example of the circular economy we’re creating through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday.”

Recently, Victoria opened a registration of interest (ROI) process seeking applications from interested parties to deliver the Suburban Rail Loop, which is a proposed underground orbital rail network to connect Melbourne’s middle suburbs.