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Steptoe and Son's glass act

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Many scrap metal yards are now rebranding themselves as 'recycling agencies', doing the same thing they always have done, but with a more acceptable face. No longer 'rag and bone men', but 'sustainability waste managers'. Historically, finding use for waste material frequently results in beneficial by-products.

The Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) and the University of Sheffield have provided the University's Centre for Cement and Concrete with £1.2 million of funding to examine the potential uses of waste glass (cullet) in concrete.The objective, driven by the possible extension of the EU Packaging Directive to set overall recovery and recycling targets for glass at 65 per cent or so comes ahead of legislation on recycling car windscreens and proposed laws governing end of use vehicle glass, light bulbs and glass fibres.

The project, supported by partners in industry, is specifically aimed at developing cullet as a decorative, exposed or polished aggregate finish, but also as a cementitious material that will reduce consumption of Portland cement.The research will run until March 2004 and the team is interested in getting architects, contractors and others to investigate the potential for using this glass concrete in high profile projects.

Contact Dr Ewan Byars, director, ConGlass Projects on 0114 222 5715

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