The results were revealed at the annual GlassAction meeting, held at Tankersley Manor, Barnsley, which was attended by more than 100 top industry professionals from all over the country.
Andy Dawe, Materials Section Manager (Glass) for WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme), reported on a series of industrial-scale trials, funded by the organisation. These projects covered sectors including brick and tile manufacture, filtration, grit blasting, sports turf and cementitious products.
He said the tests had demonstrated the commercial viability and at least comparable performance of recycled glass, compared to traditional materials, such as sand, which were often not renewable.
Mr Dawe said:
“These trials have highlighted the many different benefits recycled glass can offer British industry. By demonstrating the advantages of using it, we have provided a good business case, which UK companies will find hard to ignore.”
Among details of the tests, delegates heard how trials with members of the Shipbuilders & Shiprepairers Association had shown grit made from recycled glass achieved a comparable profile to copper slag when preparing surfaces for paint and coatings.
In trials undertaken by consultancy Aqua Enviro, filtration media made from 100 per cent recycled glass had been proved to be capable of removing suspended solids from effluent more effectively than traditional materials, provided the right size of glass was used. It also delivered more efficient backwash performance and showed no marked tendency to clog up or blind5.
Delegates also heard how trials at Tamworth-based highway maintenance product manufacturer Instarmac had shown the material to be a suitable alternative to silica sand in mortar and tile adhesive products.
Mr Dawe said: “We’ve also seen very encouraging results from the brick industry, which showed that adding recycled glass as a fluxing agent during manufacture could increase productivity, reduce firing times and, as a result, lower CO2 and HF emissions. With the dramatic increases in energy prices recently, we expect take up of recycled glass to increase in this sector, as these benefits will help to keep costs down, as well as offering environmental advantages.”
Research undertaken with the Sports Turf Research Institute has shown processed sand using recycled glass was suitable for golf course maintenance and conformed to United States Golf Association specifications for root zone construction.
In addition, delegates heard from Gary Bell, Managing Director of Fife-based concrete block manufacturer Brand & Rae. He explained how trials at his company had confirmed crushed recycled glass was a suitable replacement for primary aggregates. In certain cases, it also showed improvements in strength, resistance to frost and extreme weather conditions, and reduced drying shrinkage.
The manufacturer has now begun offering a concrete block containing 30 per cent recycled glass as part of its standard product range.
Mr Bell said: “This application is a highly effective way of reusing stocks of mixed colour glass, which the container industry cannot accommodate. We’re committed to producing and marketing concrete blocks containing recycled glass and believe more material needs to be made available for this application. We could potentially use as much as 65,000 tonnes per annum.”
Delegates heard how WRAP was encouraging UK firms to consider bulk importing of wine, to reduce the quantity of glass coming into the country.
Bulk shipment is a growing trend and currently accounts for 20 per cent of imports.
Mr Dawe said: “With the UK’s wine consumption growing, we’ll be producing in the region of 1,100,000 tonnes of green glass waste every year by 2008, but only 350,000 tonnes are currently absorbed by bottle manufacturers. Bulk importing can achieve great results because not only does it reduce the number of bottles coming in, it creates another avenue for recycled green glass, and offers cost savings for the wine trade.”
Chairing the meeting, David Workman, Director General of British Glass, said:
“We’re delighted at the success of this year’s event. The extensive work that WRAP is undertaking to promote the glass industry will lead to big improvements in recycling rates in the UK and we now need to strengthen the supply chain to accommodate future growth in demand.
“The industry is united behind this aim and I’m confident GlassAction Day will prove a highly effective way of bringing together all the interested parties to discuss the barriers and issues, as it will lead to positive actions.”
The GlassAction forum is supported and co-ordinated by British Glass and WRAP, to develop closer working relationships between existing, new and potential end markets, collectors and reprocessors.
Its meetings allow delegates to learn about the latest developments, express their views, network and contribute to future strategies.
Other speakers at the event included Ian Harrison of Brand & Rae, Shamshad Ali of Instarmac, Nick Kirk and Dave Dalton of research consultancy Glass Technology Services and Peter Mainprize of WRAP.
Any companies interested in setting up a trial or learning more about recycled glass applications should contact Andy Dawe at WRAP on 0808 100 2040.