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UK's remotest authority leads the way on glass

One of the UKs remotest local authorities hopes to be recycling 100% of its collected glass within a year and in a manner unlike any other in the country.

Because of its location 130 miles off the mainland, Shetland does not have the luxury of sending its bottles and jars to smelters and has instead come up with a novel and unique way of turning this waste into paving slabs.

The procedure is carried out by Enviroglass, the not-for-profit organisation set up by the Shetland Amenity Trust (SAT) in 2003, with its product so much in demand that it is now looking to expand its production capabilities.

Its major projects involve two schools in Manchester, housing developments in Middlesex and London and a major food retailer which is building a low carbon superstore in Liverpool.

SAT environment projects officer Mick Clifton said: On a national scale, the operation is quite small, but we dont have the option of shipping waste to the mainland for smelting because of cost and distance, so we have now come up with a rather sellable product that is British Standards certified.

You can see the pavers are made from recycled glass not aggregates and as a charitable organisation, we are keen to spread knowledge to other remote communities and charities of how waste products can be made into something reusable to maintain their value. But we have patented the procedure to protect us against the big players.

At present, around 900 tonnes of Shetlands glass bottle waste is being processed in this way, but Clifton predicts that within the next year, all 1,200 tonnes collected annually will have a new home as part of locally produced paving slabs.

But while the huge demand from companies, architects and private citizens is very encouraging, the product has almost sold itself, with it advertised nowhere other than Enviroglass website.

We dont do marketing and I have just attended a meeting looking at our lack of it. People seem to hunt us down and it is a growing product possibly because nobody else does it and it comes at almost the same price as conventional pavers.

We have applied for increased funding from the Scottish Executive to provide a marketing officer for six months. This should allow us to market it fully in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and within a year, I expect us to be fully utilising all of Shetlands glass waste, added Clifton.

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