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Glass sand trial lays foundation for ReCirculator

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Sharlene King
Published
2 February 2023

Southern Cross University’s ReCirculator is walking the talk of the reduce, reuse and recycle principle, with the concrete floor of its new facility made partly of old glass.

Concrete is one of the most used construction materials, yet sand, one of its primary components, is a finite natural resource. Glass is also made of sand, thus using empty glass drink containers and other forms of recycled glass to replace sand in concrete makes sense.

As the Northern Rivers embraces more sustainable practices, a new partnership between Lismore City Council, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Graham’s Concrete and Southern Cross University is trialling recycled crushed glass in concrete as a replacement for sand.

A handful of glass sand
Recycled glass is used in the concrete.

The floor of the ReCirculator facility, located at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre, is the trial's first demonstration. The University will use the shed for several pilot projects as part of its ReCirculator program.

Professor Andrew Rose, the Academic Director of the ReCirculator Program, said Southern Cross University shares the Council’s vision for the creation of a regional circular economy that diverts valuable materials away from landfill and back into new products.

"We’re grateful to Council for the opportunity to jointly establish a pilot facility at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre. This will allow us to showcase innovative solutions to waste issues, and we look forward to working together with Council, local industry and the wider community to help create a circular Northern Rivers economy," he said.

“This creates financial benefits both in terms of savings on waste disposal costs and purchase of raw materials, in addition to the obvious environmental benefits.

“Southern Cross University is proud to partner with Lismore City Council to work towards achieving this vision by acting as a trusted knowledge broker who can help facilitate further collaborations between Council and our ReCirculator technology partners, and assist in trialling new circular economy technologies for the benefit of Council and the wider Northern Rivers community.”

Workers level concrete floor inside shed
Workers levelling the concrete floor inside the ReCirculator facility.

Lismore City Council General Manager John Walker said finding alternative uses for recycled products was the direction we needed to head in.

“We are hopeful that this trial will demonstrate another successful use of glass sand. This is a product that we can produce locally and is our preferred option over the associated cost and challenges that comes with recycling glass in the traditional way,” he said.

“By reusing material locally, this trial demonstrates Council’s transition to circular economy principles, a focus of our Resource Recovery and Residual Waste Strategy.”

EPA Director Circular Economy Programs Kathy Giunta said the funding was allocated through the EPA’s Civil Construction Market Program to support innovation in infrastructure.

“More than $240,000 has been awarded to Lismore City Council to use glass from kerbside recycling in concrete. This will create a clever circular solution for local infrastructure needs like footpaths, kerbs, drains and roadways.

“Glass is a great option for reuse as sand as it won’t degrade over time and this project will help reduce emissions contributing to a more sustainable Lismore,” she said.

Future trials will test the use of recycled crushed glass in precast concrete products. The outcomes of the trials will be published by the NSW EPA in 2024.

For more information on Southern Cross University’s ReCirculator program, which is funded by the Federal Government’s Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF), go to www.scu.edu.au/engage/recirculator/

This project is a NSW Environment Protection Authority Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

Concrete truck pours concrete for floor of shed
Graham’s Concrete pouring the floor.

Media contact

Sharlene King, Media Office at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or [email protected]