Penrith City Council Case Studies

Construction vehicles on site

Today’s coffee cups paving tomorrow’s roads

The take-away coffee cup that you had your coffee in this morning could be in the road you drive on tomorrow, under a revolutionary Australian-first recycling project for sustainable road surfaces.  construction vehicles on a road

Penrith City Council has partnered with State Asphalt Services for the resurfacing of 390 metres of Jamison Road at South Penrith, and 350 metres of Swallow Drive, Erskine Park where the PAK-PAVETM road surface will include a mixture containing almost 136,000 coffee cups.  In addition to the cups, the asphalt will include over 1.2 million glass bottles – a mix that has proven successful in the resurfacing of 8.4 kms of pavement throughout the Penrith Local Government Area (LGA).  

Penrith Mayor Tricia Hitchen said Council is proud to be leading the way in a move that leads to a more sustainable circular economy and delivers a high-quality road surface for all road users.   

“Council has a proven track record when it comes to re-using waste products in innovative ways, and this is yet another way of reducing landfill by giving a waste product new life in an alternative use,” Cr Hitchen said.  

“With over 1,208 km of roads maintained by Penrith City Council, and countless kilometres of state roads in our LGA, we have the opportunity to make our roads far more environmentally friendly through the use of recycled materials.”  

“Road users may not notice the subtle differences between PAK-PAVETM  and other road surfaces under normal driving conditions apart from it being quieter, however in adverse conditions the new surface is reported to improve braking and wet weather performance,” Cr Hitchen said.  

John Kypreos, Director of State Asphalts NSW said, “I’m incredibly proud of the team at State Asphalts NSW and our collaborating partners, who have worked tirelessly over the past three years to develop PAK-PAVE™ Roads.”  

“We have enjoyed great support from government at all levels to get to this point and congratulate Penrith Council for being the first to use PAK- PAVE™ Roads.”  

Closed Loop Managing Director, Rob Pascoe, was equally enthusiastic.  

“The Simply Cups program has saved more than 30 million paper cups such as coffee cups and take-away soft drink cups from landfill since beginning in 2017,” said Mr Pascoe.  

“We have explored dozens of practical applications for the cups which contain very high-quality fibre but are challenging to recycle because of their waterproof lining.”  

The cups being used in the PAK-PAVETM surface are collected through Simply Cups, an initiative by Closed Loop, with 85% of the paper cups collected for recycling in the Penrith LGA in 2022 being used in these roads. Simply Cups is Australia’s largest paper cups recycling program and uses innovative technology capable of mixing used cups with other materials to produce items of higher value.  

To find a collection point, go to

  • 72,000 – the approximatre number of coffee cups are being used in the road surface on Jamison Road, South Penrith  
  • 64,000 – the approximate number of coffee cups are being used in the road surface on Swallow Drive, Erskine Park  
  • Approx. 136,000 takeaway cups have been diverted from landfill for this project.  
  • Glass bottle equivalents (using VB stubby as a reference point) >765,000 bottles (Jamison Road) + >450,000 (Swallow Drive) = 1.2 million bottles  
  • The asphalt contains other recycled materials: Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement, Steel Furnace Slag  
  • Total recycled content in the asphalt for this project is greater than 50%. 

In 2009, Penrith City Council became the first metropolitan Council in Australia to introduce a Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) collection service to the urban areas of Penrith.  

This service was then extended to rural areas in 2019. The FOGO bin takes items such as garden vegetation, cardboard takeaway boxes, animal droppings, tissues, meat, bones, dairy and other food scraps. Collected FOGO is turned into compost before being used on local parks, gardens and sports fields.  

Vegepods have been supplied to Council owned and operated children’s centres to give children an opportunity to be involved in growing their own food.  

The Vegepods demonstrate to children the benefits of FOGO’s circular economy:   

  1. Placing leftover food in the FOGO bin  
  2. FOGO is processed into compost  
  3. FOGO is reused as compost to grow vegetables  
  4. Food is eaten.   

Find out more about FOGO.

In 2019, Council trialled the use of glassphalt, an environmentally sustainable alternative to the traditional asphalt. Where asphalt uses sand in the road paving mix, glassphalt uses ground glass. Approximately 50 tonnes of ground glass was used to pave Stafford Street in Penrith. After the success of the trial, Council made a commitment to use recycled glass in all future road works.  

Council have since partnered with State Asphalt Services for the resurfacing of Jamison Road, South Penrith and Swallow Drive, Erskine Park with the PAK-PAVE™ road surface which includes a mixture containing almost 136,000 coffee cups. As well as the cups, the asphalt included over 1.2 million glass bottles.  

Find out more about DV Safe Phones and how you can participate.

Council is asking the community to donate unused mobile phone to support DV Safe Phone. DV Safe Phone refurbish and distribute the mobile phones to registered domestic violence (DV) agencies who gift the mobile phones to people experiencing domestic violence.

For people experiencing domestic violence, the mobile phone is often the first thing to be destroyed or monitored to prevent people from calling for help. The mobile phones are provided as part of an individual’s safe or escape plan, giving them the ability to call for help in an emergency.  

To date, Council has collected 150 mobile phones from the community. DV Safe Phone also supports the circular economy by promoting re-use and recycling of old mobile phones, which helps to reduce electronic waste and conserve resources. 

Penrith City Council hosted its first free Bike Drop-off and Repair Event in May 2023, with 60 residents bringing their bikes for a check and tune by Revolve ReCYCLING. The successful event saved residents money when it came to bike repair, and diverted old and unwanted bikes from ending up in landfill and saw 150 people donate unwanted bikes and scooters to charity.

Revolve ReCYCLING repair and deliver the bikes to charitable causes that provide transport and recreation to underprivileged children. Any bikes that are not salvageable are dismantled and recycled. The rubber from tyres and tubes is used in playground equipment, bike lanes and in asphalt and the bike frames, melted down for their steel and aluminium to make new metal products.  

Council's Bushland Management team partnered with Sydney Zoo in Western Sydney to collect branches and shrubs containing leaves, bark and shoots from both native plant and weed species from Penrith's bushland reserves to provide food for the Zoo's animals.

Since April 2020, approximately more than 25 tonnes of plant material have been used to feed elephants, giraffe, camels, zebra, and red panda. The Asian elephants consume almost a tonne of plants weekly. Removing weeds is crucial in maintaining our natural bushland areas and increasing the health of the sensitive vegetation communities within Penrith.  

Find out more about how we donate weeds to the Zoo.

Council's first free clothing and textile recycling drop-off event invited residents to drop off unwanted clothing and textile items for recycling with Textile Recyclers Australia (TRA) for free, helping to divert valuable resources from landfill. Brand new items were donated to local charities, such as The Haven – Nepean Women’s Shelter and WestCare Community Services with used items were taken for recycling.

The successful event saw 189 residents dropping off 4 tonnes of textiles.  

Penrith has three libraries which are free to join for residents of NSW. The library collection includes books for adults and children, DVDs, magazines, online tutoring for students, as well as eBooks and audio books.  Since 1980, the toy library has been offering inclusive play opportunities for the children of Penrith. Children can also borrow toys to take home, an easy way for families to keep up with age and developmentally appropriate toys without financial burden. 

Find out more about our Library Services.

The Civic Centre refurbishment and relocation of departments required a huge cleanout of existing spaces. To divert waste from landfill and to reduce costs associated with disposal, the Waste and Resource Recovery team placed waste sorting stations around the Civic Centre, alongside education materials, to provide convenience and thought-provoking decisions when disposing of office waste.  Surplus office stationery was made available to Council employees to give a second life to items rather than buying new. As part of the refurbishment, desk stations were retrofitted, and old desks and tables were offered to Penrith community groups and sporting clubs for free. 

Red and white street library boxes have been installed around Penrith outside Council’s early childhood centres as part of the Paint Penrith REaD program. The program was created in partnership with Mission Australia, to support early literacy and provide free books to children. The boxes were built and painted by inmates at the Parklea Correctional Centre. Residents are asked to support the street libraries by depositing books they no longer need in the boxes as well as borrowing books others have donated.

Council ‘Disposal of Assets Guidelines’ allows staff to donate goods under the value of $5,000 to a charity or other approved organisation. For example, the library has donated an old microfilm machine to the local history organisation and chairs were donated to a youth organisation. This has allowed items to continue to be used rather than sent to landfill.

Council began running its successful Supporting Sustainable Choices Scheme rebate in 2020, which saw over 400 applications from residents who purchased reusable sanitary items and/or nappies processed. Over 5.3 tonnes of single-use items were diverted from landfill, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to Council’s goal to divert 70% of waste from landfill in 2021.

Before a child is properly toilet trained, it is estimated that 5,000 to 6,000 nappies will be used and disposed of during that time. When disposable nappies end up in landfill, it takes up to 300 years for them to break down.

Find out more about the Supporting Sustainable Choices Scheme.

Council and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) restored fish habitat at Emu Green Reserve and Fowler Reserve in 2020 and 2021. The project included introducing woody debris, such as root balls and logs, back into our river systems to help restore natural habitat which had been damaged due to historical river clearing. The re-introduction of complex habitat using root balls and logs with hollows or branches.

The project won the Division C in the Natural Environment Protection and Enhancement: On-Ground Works Award at the Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards and Habitat and Wildlife Conversation category at the Keep Australia Beautiful Awards in 2022.

Find out more about our award-winning Fish Habitat Restoration project.