Glass

Overview: Glass is a hard substance that may be transparent or translucent and is brittle in nature. The use of glass in the construction industry has a long history; however, new technological advances have broadened its application. The industry uses glass as insulation, structural component, external glazing material and cladding material. In infrastructural projects, glass is used as sound barriers, tunnels, and ingredients for road surface such as asphalt and insulators.

Australia generated 1,07 Mt of waste glass in all waste streams (C&I, MSW, C&D) in 2016-17. However, the construction industry only accounts for 0.62% of this figure. Despite a higher level of recycling of glass waste relative to landfilling in all waste streams, landfilling is very prominent in the C&D waste stream. The average landfilling rate of glass waste in the C&D stream is 82.3%.

While there is an established market for some applications of glass waste, there are some other areas of application that require further investigation. The glass waste market is currently not efficient due to several reasons including contamination, the undesirable marketability of recycled glass low-cost overseas outsourcing of glass materials. Economic analysis of using recycled glass, with all the issues attached to it, including contamination and the undesirable marketability of recycled glass, an economic incentive for recyclers as well as manufacturers in Australia is not currently present. The main reason is the low-cost overseas outsourcing of glass materials. However, with promising results from new national and jurisdictional initiatives, it is likely that the current trends in the market will change for the better.

Supply chain (circular economy): Below is a model that is developed based on glass material circular economy that showcases the opportunities to reduce glass waste disposal throughout glass lifecycle. The model called the glass LoWMoR (Low of Waste, More of Resources) and presents a few opportunities through which glass waste can be efficiently managed. 

       Glass LoWMoR model 

  "Industry associations related to glass"

Recommendations to reduce glass waste disposal

  • Establish legislation for public and social housing that requires the contracts for window replacement to include recycling of all removed materials in closed-loop schemes so that the significant opportunities and quantities of potential materials are not overlooked in this sector

  • Change jurisdictional landfill levy regulations in favour of glass recycling

  • Promote the use of glass aggregate in road constructions

  • Design a partial levy exemption for residual waste in the recycling industry

  • Grow consumer awareness and desire to buy "green" products—such activity may win more work

  • Conduct more research projects to establish new applications for glass waste such as used in the landscape industry

  • Improve the purity of cullet and prevent colour contamination from increasing the value and recyclability of cullet.

Applicable regulations and policies

Full report: Click here 

glass model.JPG