Feb 1, 2023
- A new local plant has been setup to turn used glass into an industrial abrasive called Abrablast
- Abrablast is used for sandblasting in industrial settings (eg paint and rust removal)
- Glass dust produced not suitable as an abrasive may also have uses in construction (no details given, probably still exploratory). This dust constitutes ~20% of the total glass weight.
- Production of Abrablast requires no heat: the glass is simply crushed
- Likewise no colour separation is needed
- Glass is sourced from Public Waste Collectors
- Plant capacity is up to 12,000 tons annually.
- Current production is ~ 3,500 tons/year
- In 2021, Singapore produced 74,000 tons of glass waste
- Abraclean is based in Jurong not far from Tuas.
Abraclean has opened Singapore's first recycling plant for glass waste, which can transform it into new products and reduce the amount of glass being sent to Semakau landfill. The 16,000 sq m facility, which has a processing capacity of 5 tonnes of glass waste per hour, can handle up to 12,000 tonnes annually. The recycled glass will be used to make Abrablast, a patented abrasive that removes coatings such as rust and paint from metal surfaces in industrial settings.
Since its launch in 2021, the plant has aimed to recycle 3,500 tonnes of glass waste by March 2024, with 80% being transformed into Abrablast. The remaining 20% of glass dust is also utilized, being utilized in the production of lightweight bricks and construction materials.
Unlike typical recycling facilities that require glass to be sorted by color before processing, Abrablast production does not require segregation. Additionally, the plant can produce the product without melting the glass, as it crushes it instead.
- Because glass cannot be incinerated (it melts at a temperature far higher than our waste to energy plants), 100% of glass mass that is not recycled or exported ends up in Semakau
- Glass is heavy and expensive to transport so domestic solutions to glass waste are preferable to export
- Strictly speaking this is not “recycling” (ie breaking old glass down to make new glass) - it is more akin to upcycling/downcycling
- Sand made from glass has very different physical properties compared to sand from beaches.
- Many people have asked why we don't just turn old bottles into sand for construction: but these physical differences mean that glass sand is not usually fit for purpose.
- The top question that arises here is: Do they only recycle soda lime glass or are other types of glass suitable? Soda lime is the glass you get in bottles and jars and the only type currently accepted in blue bins. It's almost guaranteed is that they cannot use other types of glass (they need to rely on consistent physical properties of the input) like Pyrex. However the ST uses a photo of waste glass that does not looks more like sheet glass than soda lime s so there is a question mark here. If they are in fact using glass from construction (eg old windows) then it means that consumers still do not have a good local solution to recycle their waste glass.
Source: The Straits Times
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