Lake Macquarie City Council push to swap sand with recycled glass

Recycled crushed glass will substitute sand in civil works projects as Lake Macquarie City Council pushes for local solutions to national issues.

The project aims to reuse thousands of tonnes of glass every year, with the potential to reuse 12,000 tonnes collected from across the Hunter region if other councils get involved.

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A plant built on the Central Coast is manufacturing the glass sand for the council’s trial.

The sand has similar applications to normal sand and can be used as a bedding material in drainage projects and other civil works.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said glass bottles, jars and other items collected from household recycling bins would be sorted and processed as usual at a materials recovery facility at Gateshead.

“There is a growing need across Australia to find an end use for recycled glass,” Cr Fraser said.

With companies finding it cheaper to import new glass than buy recycled, we need to start coming up with innovative, cost-effective alternatives.

“This collaborative project could help solve a national crisis in our own backyard,” she said.

Manager Planning and Sustainability Alice Howe said more than 5000 tonnes of glass were collected for recycling annually across Lake Macquarie.

“Our strategy is twofold: we are demonstrating the suitability of recycled glass sand for our own civil works program, and have amended our engineering guidelines to specify how this material can be used in development across the city ,” Dr Howe said.

“We aim to gradually increase the amount of recycled glass that is processed into glass sand and used in our own operations. If the rest of the region follows our lead, this initiative could close the loop on thousands of tonnes of glass each year.”

Dr Howe said if the end-use issues for recycled glass aren’t addressed soon, the stockpiles of material will continue to grow.

Glass and plastics could be used to help build footpaths

End-of-life plastics and glass fines could soon be used in the construction of footpaths instead of going to landfill, according to a new study from the Swinburne University of Technology.

The research found plastics and glass fines could be incorporated into concrete footpaths while still meeting the standard requirements, and without compromising the mechanical properties.

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It is estimated that approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics end up in landfill each year, and only 48 per cent of glass waste is recovered for recycling, according to Sustainability Victoria.

The next step for this project is to include local governments and industries to increase the amount of recycled content in footpath construction.

“The use of recovered plastics and glass fines in concrete footpaths will divert significant quantities of these materials from landfill, while reducing the demand for virgin construction materials,” said Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Yat Choy Wong.

This research project is one of seven projects that investigate new ways to increase the use of recovered class and flexible plastics.