Glass takes hundreds of years to disintegrate. In fact, the bottles we dispose daily will still be around after a thousand years. Over the years we have developed means to recycle glass, but they require a tremendous amount of energy.
Glass is fragile, but at the same time it is very durable. It is not biodegradable at all. In fact, it only breaks down by breaking it into small pieces. If nothing is going to touch glass mechanically, it is pretty much going to survive through the ages, until sunlight and oxygen are going to start breaking it down.
Conventional recycling methods melt the glass and use it in a mixture with new glass in order to make a huge variety of products, such as bottles, bowls and other containers. Scientists now have created a new way of extracting liquid silicate from waste glass. This would allow making different everyday products, such as concrete sealers, fertilisers, detergents and even toothpaste.
Silicate is widely used in a variety of industries, and it is also the main component of glass. Scientists claim that extracting liquid silicate from waste glass is actually around 50 % cheaper than other methods to produce silicate. And further landfill waste can be reduced rather efficiently.
This new method leaves very little waste and recycles everything into saleable materials. Rhys Pirie, one of the creators of the new method enthusiastically explain it requires less energy, raw materials and capital, and that’s before you consider the reduced social and economic costs compared to landfilling material.
Scientists say that they are excited about the movement towards circular economies that produce little to no waste. It is an exciting prospect, which would be the core of the sustainable development. However, this new method is still yet to be commercialized – scientists are already looking for industry partners. Scientists are hopeful that industry will be interested, because the method frees up a lot of useful materials that can be used in a huge variety of products from construction materials to fertilizers concrete sealers, detergents and even cosmetics.
People are more aware of recycling problems. Hence scientists are positive that this method will contribute towards reducing waste globally.
UniQuest, the univerisity’s commercialisation company has filed a patent covering the process.
With hope and patience scientists await to changes lives with their invention.
Scientists turn waste glass into detergent, toothpaste and a lot more.