Re-thinking the life-cycle of architectural glass

In the construction industries, glass is used for a wide range of products including internal partitions and display cases, but primarily it is used as architectural glass in windows and glazing systems of all building types and across all sectors. This paper aims to apply circular economy principles to the life cycle of architectural glass. Glass is an inert material with the potential to be recycled in a closed- loop system indefinitely. Coupled with the short service life of insulating glass units there appears to be a disparity between material’s potential and its current utilisation.
In the UK, we generate almost 200,000 tonnes of post-consumer glass waste each year. Much of this goes to landfill or is crushed into aggregate. Using recycled glass to make new glass products generates significant energy and CO2 savings. This paper reviews the existing linear glazing manufacturing process and proposes a circular approach to end of life glass materials through recycling at high level, back to the glass-making furnace. Limitations, barriers and viability of such an approach are discussed and a strategy developed for the implementation of the operational system that would produce a sustainable business case for the recycling of post- consumer construction flat glass.

Graeme DeBrincat

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Eva Babic

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