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Glass recycling resuscitated in Anchorage

USA – From its base in Alaska’€™s largest city of Anchorage, Central Recycling Services (CRS) is to resume glass recycling operations that were stopped in 2009.

The construction and demolition debris specialist will collect glass and glass bottles to create ‘€˜pea gravel’€™ – tiny pieces of processed glass, similar to the gravel found in children’€™s playgrounds, which can be used in construction projects, according to CRS’€™ Recycling Director Kauai Alpha. Various applications will be served, including pipe bedding and trench backfill.

The re-launch of glass recycling operations comes just in time for America Recycles Day, notes Mary Fisher, Executive Director of Alaskans for Litter Recycling and Prevention (ALPAR). She agrees with Mr Alpha that the population of nearly 300 000 needs more than a recycling programme run by local Target stores because retailers can handle only small amounts of glass.

Anchorage generates an estimated 15 000 tonnes of glass every year. It is hoped that the glass recycling reboot will ensure that between 10 and 30% of all glass waste will be collected. The numerous previous initiatives which have emerged and then disappeared since the early 1990s managed to recycle some 20 to 30 tonnes of glass on a weekly basis.

‘€˜Anchorage is developing a recycling attitude,’€™ Mr Alpha observes. The beginnings are humble ‘€˜but that is all we can ask for’€™ at the moment, he says. The most promising glass recycling operation in recent times, he recalls, was initiated by E.K. Industries in 2007 via which glass was converted into a sandblasting medium for shipyards. However, the economics did not work out and the business dropped the project some two years later.

CRS acquired full control of the associated grinders and glass conveyor belts in 2011 in exchange for cleaning up the 800 tonnes of glass left behind. Since then, the recycler has been pondering what to do with the material, eventually developing the idea for a gravel-like product. The city council is awarding the company up to US$ 85 000 in grants to find a suitable method to process the glass.

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