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.

SA plan for future of waste management

The SA Government has revealed a 30-year plan for the future of the waste and resource recovery industry in the state, estimating almost 5000 jobs could emerge in the future.

The Waste Resource and Recovery Infrastructure Plan outlines a pathway for the industry and will attempt to guide SA with metropolitan and regional profiles. It aims to pave the way for the state to exceed its 81.5 per cent diversion from landfill figure.

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It also aims to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfill and analyse the unique needs, opportunities and challenges facing communities.

New infrastructure is also planned to be developed, including transport and processing equipment, bins, covered compost facilities, monitoring technology, training, market development, and integrated waste data systems.

Projections for future trends within the plan include both a 10 and 30-year scenario. According to the 30-year estimate, the plan could deliver an additional $660.5 million in gross state product and about 4969 full-time-equivalent jobs.

Currently, the waste and resource recovery industry has an annual turnover of $1 billion, contributes $500 million to the GSP, and employs 5000 people across the state.

SA Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said the SA Government is looking to further build their already successful and growing industry.

“This plan provides a vision where waste is managed as a resource through re-use and recycling, energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials and landfill is virtually eliminated,” he said.

“The transition to a more sustainable circular economy requires innovation along with investment and development of new infrastructure and technology to enhance resource efficiency and create business opportunities both locally and overseas.”

“I encourage the public and private sectors to continue to lead the way to a more sustainable future for our State through continued investment in this important sector of our economy.”

You can read the Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan here.