New Zealand region trials beer glass asphalt on roads

Waikato District Alliance is using waste glass from beer bottles mixed into asphalt to create a new section of road and improve its environmental sustainability.

Image: Waikato District Alliance

Waikato, situated in the upper part of New Zealand’s North Island, is using the waste glass mixed to asphalt to cover a section of roads across a 1,500 square metre site.

Having started the project last month, the Waikato District Alliance said that it is “performing well”. The idea was conceived by Road Science New Zealand who first suggested the concept of using sand made by crushing beer bottles.

Capital Works manager Steve Uffindell explained: “We’re always looking at ways to innovate and improve environmental sustainability where possible. There was no hesitation in finding a suitable site from within the current resurfacing renewal programme”.

DB Breweries, which manufacture the beer bottle sand, began producing the product in order to reduce the transportation of natural sand and the subsequent beach erosion.

Speaking to Stuff NZ, export spokesman Simon Smith said that after discovering that 27% of glass waste ends up in New Zealand landfills, the company decided to do something about it.

“DB Export has identified this as an issue and has been crushing this waste into usable material for the construction industry – creating about 104 tonnes of DB Export Beer Bottle Sand which is a finely crushed, recycled consumer waste glass.”

“This can be used for a range of purposes, including in construction, roading, golf bunkers, DIY projects, pipe bedding and sports field drainage. This new sand substitute is very similar to traditional sand and is completely safe to handle and walk on,” he added.

After coming across DB Breweries’ product, Road Science New Zealand suggested that it could be incorporated into asphalt mixes to produce a material with improved durability.

Uffindell added: “This single project has used the previously non-recyclable material created by almost 120,000 bottles and produced an asphalt that has so far outperformed the existing material”.

“From a sustainability perspective, the re-use of man-made materials such as this, now and in the future will hopefully reduce the consumption, of scarce finite materials”.

The Waikato District Alliance is monitoring the site, and if satisfied with the results, it will consider using the beer glass sand as standard practice for its road resurfacing.

One Response to “New Zealand region trials beer glass asphalt on roads”

  1. John says:

    Are we going away from using glass bottles?
    Why are the bottles not recyclable to make more bottles?
    Where does the glass come from in the first place?
    Surely:
    A) recycling glass bottles into new glass bottles is fairly efficient (I’d expect around 95-99% of the glass becomes glass again) and
    B) processing raw sand to turn it into glass takes much more energy and more raw materials than the amount of glass you can make from it.
    If they’re using bottle glass to make roads they’re going to run out of glass eventually and have to process an even GREATER volume of sand to make new glass to replace this.

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