While Annie Lennox may have been speaking metaphorically in her 1992 hit song, users of the new pathway adjacent to the new portion of Métis Trail West will literally be walking (or running, cycling, inline skating, etc.) on broken glass.
The new pathway on the east side of Métis Trail, which will connect a trail from Temple Boulevard to north of Whoop-Up Drive, has up to 15 per cent recycled glass mixed as part of its crushed granular subbase.
The 'Crushed Glass Project' is a collaborative initiative between the Waste and Recycling and Transportation departments.
Bill MacMillan, Waste and Recycling Engineer, says they had ideas to potentially send the large quantity of glass to a glass recycling plant in the U.S. Instead, crews crushed the glass last winter – effectively turning glass back into sand.
"We decided we'd rather have a local, made-in-Lethbridge solution when it comes to using our recycled glass. We are trying to stop transporting it long distances and also have a good recycled use for it when we process it," says MacMillan. "Right now, we are experimenting with using it underneath of trails in the city of Lethbridge to demonstrate its effectiveness."
This approach is an environmentally-friendly method of building a pathway with less raw product, reducing the amount of material that's going into our landfill and also using some of the glass collected in the city for the past six years. In that time, Lethbridge residents, through the Waste and Recycling community depots, have recycled enough glass to help produce about five kilometers of crushed granular base when used as a 15 per cent mixture.
"One of the exciting parts of this project is for the first time, we are using recycled glass in the granular base material in the pathway," says Transportation Project Engineer Naftali Kiboya. "Thank you to our environmentally-conscious residents for separating and recycling their glass."
After monitoring effectiveness for the 'Crushed Glass Project,' more studies could lead to it being used in roadways in the future.
"We'd like to have more glass so that we can do more projects using the material," MacMillan says. "The only way we are going to get it is if our residents separate that glass out, and take it to the depot where it's meant to be, so we can recover it and use as a resource."
This is a good reminder to residents choosing to discard a glass product: if recycled, it may end up as part of a pathway or a roadway one day rather than part of a landfill.
"If there's enough recycled glass available, we will use it in our pathway construction," says Kiboya.
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