With the City of Ballarat now collecting tonnes of glass each day in its seven drop-off points, and the Gillies Street transfer station, a common question is what happens next?
When the new recycling regime was announced - glass cannot be put in recycling bins, as it would contaminate paper and plastic processing - council said it would collect the glass and look for commercial partners to use it.
More recently, council has said it would work with institutes conducting research into materials.
READ MORE: Where can I drop off my glass?
The problem with glass is it breaks - to be remade into glass bottles, for example, the glass would need to be separated by colour, and when glass is smashed, even high-tech automated sorting machines cannot help.
Crushed glass, also known as mixed glass, can be used in road building, however.
This presents another problem, according to University of Melbourne researcher Dr Mahdi Disfani, an engineer who is looking into using recycled materials for construction projects.
He said that using crushed glass for road surfacing is cost-efficient, but only if it's close to where construction's taking place, which is a problem for regional or rural councils.
"In Melbourne metro municipalities, (glass) works, it's not really more expensive," Dr Disfani said.
"But cost of transport becomes an issue, because natural aggregates from quarries are closer and cheaper."
The University of Melbourne and Deakin University were recently named as recipients for state government funding for recycling research projects.
Dr Disfani's current project involves using shredded tyres as a road base, with a large field trial under way in Adelaide.
READ MORE ON COUNCIL'S RECYCLING SOLUTION:
At Deakin University, in June, researchers announced adding recycled glass instead of sand for polymer concrete, often used in industrial flooring, produced a stronger product that was less costly to produce.
Senior engineering lecturer Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri said in a press release the research could have global implications.
"Concrete is a major construction material and sand is one of its primary components, so finding an alternative to sand makes good economic sense," he said.
"Mined sand requires washing and grading before it is added to aggregate, cement and water to make concrete.
"We have found that substituting sand with ground recycled glass makes the polymer concrete stronger and is a sustainable use of one of the major types of recyclables in the domestic waste stream."
The one barrier to higher adoption of glass in roadworks, or other construction, will be the cost, Dr Disfani said - other experts have said mandating a minimum amount of recycled glass in council road construction projects could be a way forward, but City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh said it was important for glass solutions to be market-driven.
This is where Dr Disfani disagrees.
"State and federal governments, and local councils, need to work together, it shouldn't just be left to the market because then it won't go far ahead," he said.
"I'm sure that some councils do offer incentives for certain projects, or to get a contract, you need to have an innovation - I do think there's more that can be done to change the game more rapidly rather than just waiting for the market to decide."
This "closed loop" aspect is key to Australian Paper Recovery's business model - the business is accepting Ballarat's paper and some plastic recycling because there is a market for it once it is processed.
A City of Ballarat media release quotes APR's managing director Darren Thorpe, who said Ballarat's paper would become egg cartons and fruit trays - products that should not be contaminated with glass.
"Imagine getting an egg out of the egg carton and being pricked by a piece of glass," he said in the release.
Clean plastics would also be turned into plastic pallets, which are more sustainable than timber pallets, he added.
In the release, mayor Samantha McIntosh encouraged residents to reuse items where they can, and otherwise take care in sorting glass out of recycling bins.
"Removing the glass from the yellow recycling bins improves the likelihood that the rest of the bin's contents will find their way back into the circular economy, and it maximises the potential for the glass to find its own market in the circular economy," she said.
"We continue to negotiate with industry operators to find a long-term sustainable market for Ballarat's glass. Our ambition is to secure an agreement with an Australian glass remanufacturer who will make new bottles from our glass recyclables."
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