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Glass outperforms sand for filtration

Groundbreaking new research suggests that glass performs better than sand in filtration by up to 10%.

Building on a whole body of previous work, a study carried out by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has concluded that the practice could save 1,261 kg of C02/tonne of media/per year.

WRAP glass technology manager and support programme coordinator Andy Dawe said: “This new report comes at a timely moment with quite a lot in the press focusing on the Grant Thornton Report and criticising Government policy.

“This shows that there are viable alternative markets around and they are developing, with one of these being filtration as is shown in this research that was carried out by Aqua Enviro.”

The report by Grant Thornton and Oakdene Hollins suggested that energy intensive methods such as grinding glass for use in the construction industry could generate more C02 emissions than if the glass was sent to landfill.

Using the media for filtration had also come in for criticism. But it has now been acknowledged that with no data on its environmental benefits, previous research had concluded a slightly negative environmental impact compared to sand when looking at factors such as packaging and transport.

“This new research has taken the previous work a step further forward and filled in some of the gaps. It has been acknowledged that data was missing in original research in terms of benefits in use.

“Over a five year period, its use could result in a reduction of 1,261 kg of C02 per tonne, but we are determined that the benefits could be substantially more”, said Dawe.

While WRAP acknowledges that closed loop applications such as re-melting to make new glass carry the greatest environmental benefits, the colour imbalance in the UK makes alternative markets vital.

And with bodies such as Recycling Action Yorkshire calling for viable markets to deal with the mountain of glass waste we create, these findings provide a timely boost to the industry.

“Essentially, the improvements occur through its effect on the pumping procedure. When effluent is pumped through the filter bed, the use of recycled glass has been shown with Yorkshire Water to be 10% more efficient.”

WRAP has received positive feedback regarding the findings, with companies such as Yorkshire Water poised to take it a step further by implementing the procedure on a full scale.

Details of the report can be found at

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