Project Everest

Work Update

[JULY 18][REPURPOSE]A Real Pain In the Glass

Here in Timor-Leste the recycling of glass bottles has proven to be a real challenge for ERS. We have explored the option to use glass as an aggregate base in roads and concrete, after hearing of the successes of this method back in Australia. We also considered the use of crushed glass as a water filter and as a decorative addition to plaster walls. There has just been one thing stopping us from achieving this and that is resources.

After ringing countless construction companies we have not been able to find anyone willing or able to crush the glass to the desired size.

In February the ERS team paired with RMS and actually got a glass aggregate test completed using glass they crushed themselves, with sub par results.

Currently we are hoping to sell off some our stockpiled glass to community groups that use it to back various craft projects, but this is small scale.

Due to the difficulties and safety concerns regarding working with glass we are stumped, which is so frustrating because in theory it is 100% recyclable.

Quickly approaching 12,000 bottles in storage, where do we go from here?

edited on 29th January 2019, 00:01 by Rose Gooding

Sam Swain Jul 18, 2018

Hi Maddy,

I can only express that you're not the only one frustrated with this. These are the same issues facing Australia with recycling glass.

Small MRF (Materials Recovery Facilities) have employed people with the proper equipment to sort the glass into the three primary colours (green, clear and brown). The main way they achieve this is by ensuring it isn't crushed during transport with thick gloves and eye protection (from a safety perspective). I am not sure what the collections are like now, but when we initiated the trial again in December 2017 we would have been easily able to sort glass into the three colours.
After sorting this glass. It is then placed in containers and shipped (by road) to one the glass manufacturing plants in Australia such as OI. This is all about supply chain management, where smaller amounts are gathered at bigger holding facilities then transported further afield.
This is really the only (current) solution offered in Australia. It costs significant amount of money to sort glass colours, hence why glass manufacturers don't want the glass.
I should mention that the amount earned from glass is often offset by other products such as aluminium, or it only covers the transport costs...

From this I could only suggest that the team investigate in details (if it hasn't been done already) the logistics to see whether it can be shipped to Indonesia, and what the costs would be, volumes required. I think there is a glass manufacturing plant in Indonesia. (It would be the closest option). I'm wondering as Timor-Leste imports a significant amount amount of products, whether some of these shipping containers can be "back filled" to a country of origin at a cheaper rate?

My other suggestion, may be (out of left field) to see whether you're able to partner or approach either the sellers of these bottles, maybe even the Portuguese embassy (with all the Portuguese wine they import) and see whether they can help or support a solution in returning these.

I know you've spoken to construction companies, are these the ones that build roads, or those that are constructing buildings?
The other long shot, might be worth trying is contacting Engineers Australia and see if they would have any leads that you may be able to talk to about how to get the glass to a specific standard, the costs associated with this and whether it would be viable for ERS to make it to this standard. There have been studies and good results of this in Australia as a road base or as bedding for pipes. That may be the best avenue rather than structures.

The only other thought I have had (off the top of my head is that if you can find a glass crusher that will crush the items to such a small standard, maybe you can look at it replenishing parts of the beach where it has become eroded (although not sure about the environmental impacts of this....) It is just quartz at the end of the day.

Another suggestion that some Councils in Australia have been using it as crushing it and using it as landfill cover (to stop erosion, odour etc).

It's hard giving direction looking from the outside in, but hopefully they may have sparked some thoughts for you and the team to discuss or investigate in more detail.

if you want to talk to me in more details about this idea, get Bec to give me call.


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Scott Jucius Jul 19, 2018

If you haven't investigated already, do there happen to be any insulation manufacturers in Timor-Leste that use glass in their production?

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Jimmy Bayssari Jul 24, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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