Local partnership to give glass a second life: ResourceCo

Local partnership to give glass a second life: ResourceCo

With the export ban on waste glass now in effect, ResourceCo is leading the charge in giving a second life to glass in South Australia.

Following a recent successful trial, ResourceCo is pitching a long-term agreement with the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) to repurpose glass collected from the state’s household waste.

NAWMA provides best practice waste management and resource recovery services for its three constituent councils, as well as receiving and processing material for other clients including businesses, industry and regional councils.

The agreement with ResourceCo, should it be executed, will facilitate the recycling of 15,000 tonnes per annum of glass not suitable for returning to recycled glass bottles, which is then blended at a rate of greater than five per cent with a road base material, creating up to 300,000 tonnes of road construction product.

Adam Faulkner, NAWMA Chief Executive Officer, is excited at the opportunity to partner with ResourceCo in the trial and leading the way for South Australia to repurpose its own waste glass.

“This partnership is even more significant with the export ban starting last month. We are ready to take this beyond a trial and make it a sustainable collaboration, providing broader environmental and social dividends,” Faulkner says.

“The safe and responsible uptake of recycled glass as a replacement for virgin aggregate is the most powerful illustration to householders that recycling right in their yellow top recycling bins, creates jobs, preserves the environment and builds roads right in their backyards.”

Both NAWMA and ResourceCo were early movers in committing to onshore sorting and processing.

Groundwork for the original trial began at ResourceCo’s Wingfield facility in late 2019.

Prior to its arrival at ResourceCo’s processing facility, the glass is separated from the paper, cardboard and plastics that join it in kerbside recycling bins, before being broken down to cullet, small shards and pieces.

After screening, the glass is crushed down into particles of seven millimetres and smaller.

According to Jim Fairweather, ResourceCo CEO, it is then blended with a 20-millimetre road base material.

“We have invested a significant amount of time and resources, working closely with the South Australian government to ensure the blend we are creating meets the Department of Infrastructure and Transport’s specifications for road construction,” he says.

“It’s performed well in construction, and so we’re now focused on making it a standard product offering for us going forward.”

Fairweather adds that finding alternative uses for South Australia’s waste streams such as glass is critical to the environmental sustainability of the state and achieving circularity.

“With the Federal Government making Australia more responsible for how waste is recovered and providing clear policy direction for the waste and resource recovery industry, the next critical element is in achieving strong procurement commitments for recycled materials,” he says.

“This a great example of industry partnering with government to deliver solutions that result in the repurposing of material that would have otherwise gone to landfill.

“With thought leadership in sustainability and partnerships with progressive and environmentally conscious governments, suppliers and customers, we can set new benchmarks in repurposing and recycling waste materials into products.”

The export ban on waste glass, which includes unprocessed glass in a whole or broken state, is the first in a series of waste export bans to be implemented.

It will be followed by mixed plastics, whole used tyres, single resin/polymer plastics and finally mixed and unsorted paper and cardboard. All bans will be in effect by 1 July 2024.

“With the new laws providing an impetus to repurpose waste on shore, there is an urgent need for a strong and continued focus on growing sustainable domestic markets and this project provides a great example of what can be achieved with a united approach,” Fairweather says.

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