Innovative Glass Works plan: a new era in glass recycling
To provide a concrete solution for 100% of the glass containers that Québecers place in their recycling bins is the objective of the Innovative Glass Works plan. A first in North America, the approach developed by ÉEQ firstly aims to provide sorting centres with cutting-edge equipment to produce recycled glass of the highest quality that meets the expectations of conditioners and recyclers. It also seeks to develop new markets and foster the commercialization of ecomaterials made from the recycled glass collected from citizens’ recycling bins.
To give a second life to glass from curbside recycling, it was important to first ensure that the sorting centres had the right sorting and cleaning equipment in order to provide conditioners and recyclers with high-quality glass that meets their expectations.
ÉEQ sought a technology that would adequately process glass from single-stream collection, as is the case in Québec. At the outcome of a rigorous analysis and selection process, the final choice ended up being an innovative technology: shockwave implosion. The approach led to a partnership between ÉEQ and Krysteline Technologies, the British manufacturer that developed the equipment, and Machinex, the Québec equipment manufacturer that distributes the products in North America and which installed the systems in the sorting centres chosen by ÉEQ to take part in the experimental pilot projects.
Over a 15-month period, five sorting centres are testing the glass implosion equipment and related installations in contexts and conditions that are specific to Québec.
The sorting centres enrolled in the pilot projects now process close to 25% of all the glass recovered in Québec. They also provide sufficient provincial representativity in terms of their capacities and locations.
Glass processing equipment will also be installed in the city of Montréal’s new sorting centre, which is slated to begin operations in June 2019.
The second component of the Innovative Glass Works plan involves the diversification of the markets for glass processed by sorting centres since it is not enough to simply produce high-quality glass: there must also be second life outlets that match its potential.
Indeed, glass has many properties. It may be remelted to make new glass containers or ground and processed to substitute or enhance existing materials and products.
In order to diversify the uses of recycled glass, ÉEQ set out a component to support companies seeking to commercialize glass collected through curbside recycling in Québec in its Innovative Glass Works plan.
The market studies that have been carried out to date confirm the potential of the materials made from recycled glass. Already, a number of municipalities are testing new materials made from glass containers collected from citizens’ recycling bins in park benches, skateboard park infrastructures and sidewalks made from cement and a glass powder additive.
For more information on ecomaterials made from recycled glass and their many advantages, go to our page about the second life of materials.
An entire circular economy of glass from curbside recycling is currently emerging. Across Québec, the glass that is collected and recycled is contributing to the establishment of an economy based on the three pillars of sustainable development: environment, society and economy. The Innovative Glass Work plan yields a range of benefits: employment in social enterprises, offset GHG emissions, innovation and more. They help provide value to the materials that stem from the curbside recycling system.
In addition to overseeing the different steps in the Innovative Glass Works plan, ÉEQ facilitates networking between the organizations involved in the initiative, including companies seeking to commercialize ecomaterials made from recycled glass, sorting centres, conditioners and municipal waste and infrastructure managers.