A detailed financial analysis of waste to landfill and the benefits of diverting glass containers into productive re-use has led to a partnership between the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River in Western Australia and the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Packaging Stewardship Forum (PSF) to use recycled, crushed glass from beverage containers in road construction.
Opening the construction site at Railway Terrace, Shire President Ray Colyer said, “This is a great regional solution and a model that I would recommend to others. It’s a win for the environment, the economy and for the rate payer.”
“Prior to commencing the project the Shire analysed how much it costs to put glass in our landfill or transport it long distances for recycling compared with the costs of processing it locally.
"This cost benefit analysis showed that local processing of glass and the potential reuse of it locally would dramatically reduce recovery costs, significantly increase recycling rates and minimise uneconomic and environmentally unacceptable practices.
"Crushing it in the Shire and reusing it locally in civil construction provides a net benefit,” Mr Colyer said.
The collected glass is crushed locally at the Margaret River Glass Reprocessing Plant, an Australian Packaging Covenant/WA Government funded facility, to a national standard specification suitable for use in a range of alternative local markets including road base, asphalt, concrete and pipe embedment as a partial sand replacement.
General Manager of the PSF Jenny Pickles said the Shire’s cost benefit analysis will be of enormous value to other councils demonstrating the financial case for using RCG in civil construction projects.
“For the first time this study sets out for councils what they need to know about the comparative costs of processing glass rather than sending it to landfill.
"Through our kerbside recycling systems we’re collecting more than 76 per cent of glass beverage containers annually but due to breakage we’re recycling just over half back into new containers.
"That means around 130,000 tonnes nationally is either stockpiled or going to waste in our landfills annually.
“The road construction sector uses millions of tonnes of sand and aggregate each year. By using RCG as a replacement for sand, we could reduce the extraction of virgin sand, eliminate current glass waste, save landfill space and provide ongoing local markets for the glass we collect through kerbside,” Ms Pickles said.