Recycled glass concrete leaving a sustainable footprint on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade

Contractor Lendlease Engineering has joined forces with the NSW Government and a northern NSW council to trial the use of fine aggregates made from recycled glass in the concrete pavements on the Woolgoolga to Ballina Pacific Highway upgrade.

Lendlease received a grant from NSW's Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to use recycled crushed glass as a key component of pavement concrete on a 5 kilometre section of the upgrade south of Ballina.

Some 2000 cubic metres of recycled glass concrete pavement was laid over four days, utilising over 220 tonnes of glass - the equivalent of one million bottles.

The discarded glass was processed by Lismore City Council, which crushes about 6,000 tonnes of glass every year, including glass from four neighbouring shires.

On delivery to the on-site concrete batching plant, the glass sand was first washed then blended with manufactured sand before being processed into concrete.

One of the big advantages Lendlease has found in using the glass sand is the uniformity of size of the particles, which helps with the mixing and grading of the constituents of concrete.
Jason Nairn, National Materials and Durability Manager, Engineering & Design with Lendlease Engineering, says working with Transport for NSW and Pacific Complete, together with the partnership with Lismore City Council and the NSW EPA, has allowed the contractor to invest in the process and look at ways to make it more economical for use on other projects. 

"These sorts of partnerships between industry and government represent a huge win for recycling and waste management in Australia," he says.

"It feels good to be able to deliver something that has such a positive environmental benefit."
So successful has the development and trialling of the recycled glass concrete been that it was recently awarded the Road Construction Innovation Awards at this year's Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) National Transport Research Awards.

At the same time, its successful application is encouraging other projects and teams to explore its use, bolstering the road industry's growing contribution to the circular economy.