Today’s Solutions: May 17, 2022

A construction project in Montreal, Canada has taken bridge building to a whole new level: adding recycled glass to the concrete mix.

In what the city calls a world first, the Darwin bridge construction project on Nuns’ Island in Montreal has given a second life to more than 70,000 recycled wine bottles by crushing them into a fine powder and mixing it into the concrete.

Montreal is no stranger to using recycled glass in construction as a way to reduce its climate impact. The city has been using glass bottle powder in its pavements for a few years already, but it’s the first time it uses the unusual construction method in a structure like a bridge.

“We found out the results are very good so this material performs very well in our climate,” said project lead designer and engineer Étienne Cantin Bellemare.

The fine white powder will replace roughly 10 percent of the construction material used, saving about 40 tons of cement. This not only makes the bridge more durable, but officials claim it also shrinks the project’s environmental footprint, significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

In addition to that, the new ingredient could also serve as a remedy to the current recycling crisis, breathing new life into bottles that would end up in landfills otherwise.

“In Quebec and around the world, we don’t know what to do with glass once it’s in the recycling bin, so now there is a good opportunity to use this material in concrete,” Bellemare said.

The project is expected to reach completion by next fall and, if it performs as well as officials expect, the method could be used more frequently throughout the world.

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