AI cleans up construction with world-first recycling plant

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

Queensland has kicked off a recycling revolution with an announcement for its cutting-edge, fully automated construction waste centre.

Opening in Brisbane’s Pinkenba, the 95 million dollar mega project will be the first completely automated facility of its kind in the world, replacing traditional factory workers with advanced robotics and sophisticated AI charged with repurposing thousands of tonnes of construction waste. 

According to Rino Recycling General Manager Dan Blaser, the site will be able to process up to 475 tonnes an hour (or 68 truckloads), massively slashing the demolition debris being carted off to the city’s landfills.

“This plant has scale, capacity and efficiency – it can recycle more than 1.5 million tonnes of waste with 97 per cent recovery annually whilst producing high quality products such as aggregates, sand, and road bases to the equivalent standard of quarried material but with significant environmental benefits,” Mr Blaser said. 

“In under 20 minutes, a truck can go from offloading construction waste and leave with a new load of high quality, recycled products ready for the job site.

“It is a green, circular economy in action.”

And experts seem to agree. An independent report estimated the recycling facility will help reduce carbon emissions by up to 55,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of planting 909,000 trees or removing 12,000 cars from the road.

Rino Major Projects Manager Mat Stafford revealed on social media this week that the plant had already successfully processed 17,386 tonnes of construction and demolition waste in a week, with 94 per cent of waste coming from a nearby landfill.

Recycled construction materials test Credit: Mat Stafford

“Impressive stats aside, I couldn’t be prouder of where our Rino family has come from, where we are and where we’re going,’ said Stafford.

“And while we’re already making world-class recycled materials, the best part is we’ll only get better.

“This business isn’t a potential game changer, it’s already changing the game.”

Building a green solution

Each year, Aussie worksites are responsible for producing over 25 million tonnes of construction waste (44 per cent of all the country’s waste), but only 76 per cent of it is currently being recycled or repurposed. The remainder is sent to landfills, illegally dumped, or stockpiled.

Rino Recycling’s Director, Todd Pepper, said the new plant could be the key to helping the state bump it’s stubborn recycling rate of 68 per cent to 75 per cent, by recovering a massive 97 per cent of the material fed into the plant.

“We are helping decarbonise through recycling waste and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of truck movements on the road,” Mr Pepper said. 

“The new facility is 13 kilometres from the CBD, so trucks have less distance to travel, and we are replacing the need to have to go to landfill sites west of the city, like Swanbank in Ipswich.” 

With the city anticipating a massive infrastructure and construction boom ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and SEQ City Deal, Blaser said it’s critical the industry adopt these massive AI-lead facilities if it is to have any hope of handling the incoming workload. 

“This puts in place the infrastructure for developers and all levels of government to adopt a ‘recycled first’ policy when it comes to construction and waste management,” he added.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.