A School of Engineering study has unearthed solid evidence that waste materials can be given another lease of life. The Concrete and Masonry Research Group is looking at ways glass bottles, tyres and construction debris can be recycled and reused in building products. Headed by Dr Mukesh Limbachiya, the investigation could lead to new recycling for reuse strategies and reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill sites.
British industry relied heavily on natural resources and generated too much waste, Dr Limbachiya said. “London, in particular, is running very low on landfills, so it is becoming even more important to control the generation and dumping of waste,” he said. “We’ve discovered that recycling rubble from construction demolition for use in concrete offers an environmentally-responsible and economically-viable means of converting it into a valuable resource.”
The research team is also assessing the feasibility of recycling glass bottles for use in concrete and block paving. Since the introduction of public bottle banks in the 1970s there had been a significant growth in surplus used glass, Dr Limbachiya said. Almost 800,000 tonnes of glass was collected annually in the United Kingdom but recycling was limited. “Under new government guidelines, there is an urgent need to identify alternative uses for glass waste, while the disposal of whole tyres in landfill sites will soon be outlawed as well. Our research aims to exploit the potential for these materials to be reused in the construction industry,” Dr Limbachiya explained.
The study was one of the major focuses of an international conference on sustainable waste management hosted by the University in September. Delegates included industry representatives and academic experts from more than 20 countries who examined latest waste minimisation practice and technological developments.