Research by Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology has found a potential new use for flexible plastics and glass fines in the construction of footpaths.
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.