Recycling glass will save our beaches

A New Zealand company is set to turn its used beer bottles into environmentally friendly sand. A circular idea to combat the global sand shortage.

In the space of a few seconds a recycled bottle metamorphoses into 200 g of sand.

From deserts to vast beaches, sand has long been thought of as an inexhaustible resource. Wrongly. The third most used resource in the world - after water and air - sand is indispensable in a wide range of industries including building, glass and plastic. It is also found in a large number of electronic devices, such as our tablets, smartphones and computers. 75 million metric tons of sand are taken from the planet’s beaches and rivers every year! For example, 30,000 metric tons of sand are needed for 1 km of road and 12 million metric tons of sand to build a nuclear power plant. But the exponential growth in extraction does have an impact on the environment. According to figures issued by the Surfrider Foundation, between 75% and 90% of the world's beaches are receding. The facts are clear: coastal erosion is accelerating as the shortage of sand becomes a global issue.
In New Zealand, a country known for its beautiful beaches, DB Export Beer - a company specializing in beer and cider brewing - decided to take action to protect this resource. Given that sand can be turned into glass, then why not recycle glass as sand? A great circular economy loop!
 

Turning waste into resources

In 2017 DB Export Beer set out to meet the challenge and developed a machine capable of transforming used beer and cider bottles into sand. The principle is simplicity itself: consumers just put their empty bottles in the machine which crushes and grinds up the bottles. A suction system removes all the other things (labels, plastic, impurities) leaving only pure glass sand. In just a few seconds a recycled bottle metamorphoses into 200 g of sand.
The New Zealand company had two goals. It wanted not only a recycling solution for its used beer bottles but also for those recycled bottles to be a new resource that would be a sustainable alternative to sea sand.
 

Environmentally friendly sand for local businesses

DB Export Beer is committed to redistributing its glass sand to the local construction companies and industries that use large quantities of sand. It’s one way of limiting the massive extraction of sand from the country’s amazing beaches. Environmentally friendly sand can be used on national road projects and for commercial and residential buildings – even in golf bunkers!
DB Export Beer wants to send its invention around the world! The brand has manufactured a whole fleet of machines to equip pubs, parking lots and busy beaches. Their slogan says it all: "Drink a beer, save our beaches!" A great initiative that proves that all we need for a circular economy is imagination!
 
 

 

 

Main picture: Getty Images

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