Where the streets are paved with…glass?

Carl Jaakkola at Label Construction shows some crushed glass aggregate

That concrete island in the middle of the roundabout might have been built with your empty Chardonnay bottle.

A Prince Edward Island business is making crushed-glass aggregate that is proving superior in road construction. The process reduces the need to import gravel and keeps countless glass bottles out of the landfill.

 “We pick up thousands and thousands of wine, rum, and imported beer (such as Heineken and Corona) - any non-returnable bottles - and run them through our crusher,” said Dean Crosby of Label Construction.

The crusher sorts out any paper or steel and spits out a smooth crushed glass aggregate in clear and lime green, blue, light or dark green, or brown.

Crosby says it’s ideal under concrete as a replacement for imported gravel. That’s better for the environment in two ways: by keeping glass out of the landfill and not having the wear and tear and fuel costs of importing gravel.

The province’s Highway Asset Project Manager Todd LaBrech said government has been using locally crushed glass for three or four years under concrete medians and splitter islands in roundabouts, and to fill gaps in retaining walls. The crews like it too, it because it’s lighter to rake than gravel.

“There is a significant cost savings and it’s more environmentally friendly, we are getting rid of our own glass,” LaBrech said. “Prince Edward Island has always been a leader in recycling; it’s something we do very well.”

The material is clean, will never break down, and is great as a base in wet areas because it doesn’t turn soupy the way sand does. And, at $8 a tonne, this product is much cheaper than gravel imported from New Brunswick for $32 a tonne.

Label Construction used to crush the glass then ship it off island to be turned into the aggregate, but now it’s all done in Charlottetown at their MacAleer Drive location. A couple of local artisans have even expressed interest in using it to make stained glass, but the company is finding that their supply is quickly outpacing the demand.

 “We might not be able to process fast enough to meet the demand; that’s the best we can hope for,” Crosby added.

Find out more about building roads and infrastructure on PEI. 

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