New summary report released: Novel Applications for Fine Glass

As a leader in sustainable solid waste, the City of Peoria is always on the cutting edge of sustainable solid waste management. As part of a larger Solid Waste Management project portfolio, the City of Peoria has worked with ASU Project Cities on three solid waste projects, including Textiles & EPS, E-Waste, and Biomass Gasification.

For her culminating experience for the Master of Science in Environmental & Resource Management program, Shrut Kirti Chawla worked with long-time PC faculty member Al Brown and the City of Peoria Solid Waste Division to research alternative applications of fine glass residue. Shrut conducted a life cycle assessment and a cost-benefit analysis to inform the City’s fine glass recycling efforts.

The report represents a semester-long effort to determine the overall feasibility of the City of Peoria to consider fine glass recycling efforts. Shrut conducted an extensive literature review of alternative uses for fine glass residue, including construction materials. With key stakeholder interviews and a visit to the City of Phoenix North Gateway Transfer Station, Shrut developed a list recommendations including alternative uses for fine glass residue, and potential partnerships with third party recycling vendors.

The original student content is available on the Project Cities website. Read the full summary report here.

About fine glass

Glass is a prevalent material used for packaging of food and drinks, and proves to be an indespinsible material for recycling. However, as glass is further broken down into a fine powdery residue, the material cannot be recycled and ends up in landfills. Instead, there is an opportunity to repurpose, or upcycle, fine glass residue for alternative uses like construction, thermal insulation, and more. At a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), glass can fall from the conveyor belt once its broken down; however, this residue can contain contaminants like ceramics and plastics which makes it unfit for recycling.

Shrut Kirti Chawla and Al Brown visit the City of Phoenix North Gateway Transfer Station, Spring 2022

Peer community benchmarking study

Shrut reviewed peer communities in Arizona to determine what other cities are doing with their fine glass. After contacting experts from Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Tuscon, she identified additional third-party recycling vendors including GlassKing Recovery & Recycling, Waste Connections Arizona, and Consolidated Resources, Inc.

Fine glass applications and recommendations

As part of her study, Shrut conducted a life cycle assessment in order to compare the environmental impacts of of fine glass, from glass bottle production to the landfill. Instead, fine glass can be repurposed for pozzolan in concrete, ceramics, and foam concrete.

"The Fine Glass Recycling Project through ASU’s Project Cities Program provided several promising insights to the City of Peoria. The students’ recommendations, including glass as an aggregate and building on existing partnerships, align with Peoria’s commitment to recycle right for a more sustainable tomorrow and we are excited to see results."
Beckie Borquez, Environmental Coordinator
City of Peoria

Future of fine glass recycling in Peoria

The City of Peoria has already incorporated findings from this report into its recycling program. The recommendations led to a new cost-sharing agreement with the Phoenix Municipal Recycling Facility so the City can purchase new equipment for processing fine glass into a viable commodity.

Project Cities is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N) and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and the Sustainable Cities Network. Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter