Recycled Glass in Construction Materials

Glass is often a byproduct of many municipal recycling programs and electronics recycling facilities. However, glass collected through the local single-stream recycling system represents a significant financial burden on the program due to lack of a market for mixed glass. Recycling centers usually have to ship the mixed glass to sorting facilities where it is cleaned and separated by color. The high cost of transport and sorting fees affect recycling centers, resulting in numerous centers no longer accepting glass. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 11,500,000 tons of glass waste was generated in the US in 2010 and only 27% was recycled. At the local level, recycling generates approximately 360 tons per month of mixed glass debris in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois area alone. Out of 360 tons, approximately 60 tons is trash and approximately 300 tons is a glass of various colors. Therefore, the primary objective of Phase 2 of this study (fall 2017 and spring 2018) will be to determine the feasibility of utilization of recycled glass in local construction projects. Phase 1 of this study (spring 2017) showed promising results which will be further continued in Phase 2 by working closely with Illinois Ready Mix Concrete Association (IRMCA), Town of Normal and local recycling facility.

Project Mentors

Dr. Pranshoo Solanki (Associate Professor, Construction Management, Department of Technology)
Dr. Guang Jin (Professor, Department of Health Sciences)
Dr. Tom Bierma (Research Professor (Emeritus), Department of Health Sciences)

Recruitment Status:


Competencies needed by faculty and students involved

Construction – technical specifications for construction materials.
Recycling/materials processing – production of recycled glass and cleaning the material for use or sale.
Business and economics – assessing supply, demand, revenue and costs for a new business in glass cleaning.
Legal – this should be minimal – related to state and federal requirements for paving materials (probably handled under “Construction” expertise).

Final Deliverable:

The product such as low strength construction material made of recycled glass, the method for cleaning and sizing the glass.