In search of new ways to reuse non-recyclable glass, scientists have found a simple answer: they’re turning glass back into sand.
Researchers in Australia found that they can turn ground glass into polymer concrete, which can be used effectively for roads and parking lots, seeing it as a “potential substitute” for sand in concrete. Polymer concrete is a type of concrete that uses polymers, typically resins, to replace lime-type cement as a binder.
According to the World Economic Forum, construction makes up 6% of the global GDP, and concrete is a large part of that. Finding a cheap, reusable substitute for sand is potentially game-changing.
Says Dr. Riyadh Al-Ameri, from the Deakin School of Engineering in Victoria: “Mined sand requires washing and grading before it is added to aggregate, cement and water to make concrete.
"We have found that substituting sand with ground recycled glass makes the polymer concrete stronger and is a sustainable use of one of the major types of recyclables in the domestic waste stream.
"Any changes that reduce the cost of production will lead to significant gains across the industry, potentially on a global scale."
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