Canada: Waste Glass Transformed Into Profit-Producing Treasure

It has a soft, sand-like texture to it, and it glitters in the sunlight. It is Niagara Ecoglass, a new product being manufactured and sold in the region, and it's the end product of those empty glass bottles you toss in your blue box and forget about.

Niagara's regional government and Niagara Recycling, the not-for-profit processing contract for the region's recycling program, officially launched their new glass recycling system recently, showcasing what is being called one of only a handful of such facilities in Canada.

Housed inside the regional recycling centre in Niagara Falls, a new $1.2 million machine the size of a few buses takes the glass collected at curbside in blue boxes, grinds it up, heats it to nearly twice the temperature of boiling water and creates a fine, clean, sand-like material.

Officials said the new program will divert thousands of tonnes of broken glass from the region's quickly filling landfills each year. Barry Friesen, director of waste management services for the region, said it will also generate a profit through the sale of Niagara Ecoglass for such uses as a cement additive, garden mulch, refurbishing log home surfaces, water filtration, the paint and shingle industries, and -- most notably -- for sandblasting in the automotive and industrial sectors.

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