Beer bottle asphalt being trialed in Hamilton

Beer bottle asphalt being trialed in Hamilton

People normally cringe when they see glass on the road, but not this time.

Waikato District Alliance is using the intersection of Horsham Downs and Lake roads in north Hamilton as a pilot for beer bottle glass sand asphalt in an attempt to find a use for glass waste.

“We’re always looking at ways to innovate and improve environmental sustainability where possible,” Waikato District Alliance capital works manager Steve Uffindell said.

“This single project has used the previously nonrecyclable material created by almost 12,000 bottles and has produced an asphalt that has, so far, outperformed​ the existing material.”

The recent hot weather which has made some tar roads bleed hasn’t caused such problems with the new mixture.

“We use asphalt on high-stress or heavily trafficked areas in the network to cope with these conditions. The glass asphalt withstands the higher temperatures well, whereas a chip seal would deteriorate more.”

Uffindell said that the cost is similar to regular asphalt used previously on the site.

“The new product should also perform better than standard mix when it comes to the amount of traffic use on it.”

The trial area is about 1500 square metres.

It began after Downer Road Science New Zealand approached the Waikato District Alliance with the idea of sand made by crushing beer bottles.

The sand is manufactured by DB Breweries as it is attempting to use it as a sustainable sand substitute. Every year, 27 per cent of glass waste makes its way into New Zealand landfills, which equates to roughly 60,000 tonnes of glass.

“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,” DB Export spokesman Simon Smith said.

He believes no one else in New Zealand is incorporating glass into asphalt.

The Downer Road Science team designed and evaluated the benefits of the material and found that incorporating the glass sand into asphalt produced a mix that handled exactly the same as conventional asphalt while it improved its resistance to deformation.

Downer is currently monitoring the trial and investigating how it can incorporate the sand as standard practice.

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