Critical evaluation of the principle of circular economy in open loop via two examples of recovery of mixed glass

 

Joris Deschamps (Master student, civil and buildind engineering, USherbrooke)

Supervisor: Ben Amor

Co-supervisor: Arezki Tagnit-Hamou

Context

How to enable better use of resources? This can be answered through circular economy concepts. A situation illustrating the complexity of this issue is the management of glass at the end of life in Quebec. Although being a potentially endlessly recyclable resource, glass from Quebec's selective collection is struggling to be recycled. Indeed, the quality of the glass flow is too low to be reused via traditional circuits. In 2015, despite more than 150,000 tonnes of glass recovered in Quebec by sorting centres, only 23,000 tonnes were sold, resulting in sorting centres crumbling under glass waste, unable to find viable economic opportunities for this material.

Goal

The main goal of this research project is to evaluate the environmental impact of the open-loop circular economy principle, using the Life Cycle Assessment model, in the case of the use of recycled glass powder in concrete as a cement additive.

Methods

The study consists of a comparative LCA of innovative concrete formulation including glass powder as a cementitious addition with more conventional concrete formulations. The study focuses on two concrete case studies, a pavement concrete slab and an ultra-high-performance pedestrian walkway. To do this, the LCA of these scenarios will be carried out by modelling it using the SimaPro 8 software, the Ecoinvent 3.2 database and the Impact 2002+ impact analysis method. Each study includes uncertainty analyzes (Monte Carlo simulation) and sensitivity analyzes on system parameters such as service life, transport distance, suppliers, etc.

Applications

This study will quantify the intensity of the environmental impacts on the life cycle of an innovative concrete formulation incorporating recycled glass powder. In order to improve the environmental impact of concrete caused by cement, its results will be crucial in order to allow industrial and public entities to direct their efforts in the choice of cement additions by moving eventually towards the powder recycled glass.

Partner

Chaire SAQ sur la valorisation du verre dans les matériaux