Hunter-first innovation finds end use for recycled glass

Date posted: 13 June 2018

Lake Macquarie City Council is spearheading a push to substitute sand with recycled crushed glass in civil works projects in a bid to find a local solution to a growing national waste problem.

The Hunter-first project is on track to reuse thousands of tonnes of glass every year, with the potential to reuse all 12,000 tonnes collected across the region if other councils jump on board.

Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Cr 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.

But, rather than looking for glass recycling solutions interstate, Council is trialling the reuse of “glass sand” manufactured at a custom-built plant on the Central Coast.

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

“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.”

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.”

Other Hunter councils have already expressed interest in the initiative, along with other major local organisations.

Cr Fraser and representatives from other Hunter councils visited a drainage construction site in Fishing Point today to see the glass sand in use.

Crews poured the sand into drainage pits in preparation for drainage pipes to be laid on top.

Previously, much of Australia’s recycled glass went interstate for processing and reuse. However, recently much of this material has been stockpiled.

“If we don’t address the end-use issues for recycled glass soon, the stockpiles of this material sent interstate and awaiting reuse will simply continue to grow,” Dr Howe said.

Independent research into glass sand found it is equivalent to virgin sand in terms of engineering applications and environmental factors.

It has similar abrasive properties, provided the glass sand is crushed into particles no larger than 3mm in size, such as that used by Council.

And it produces less harmful dust due to its lower content of airborne crystalline silica.


Article by Lake Macquarie City Council

Page last updated: 13 June 2018