A local brewery grinds old bottles into sand to use in this beer bottle asphalt.
Call it “one for the road” – literally. A city in New Zealand has launched a pilot program that’s repaving roadways with old beer bottles. No, you can’t see a bunch of Budweiser labels when you come to a stop. Instead, the bottles are crushed into a fine sand and incorporated into a beer bottle asphalt.
According to the New Zealand news site Stuff, the first test of this new asphalt took place at an intersection in the city of Hamilton, located about 90 minutes south of Auckland on the country’s North Island. “We're always looking at ways to innovate and improve environmental sustainability where possible,” said Steve Uffindell, capital works manager for the Waikato District Alliance, the road maintenance group behind the trial. “This single project has used the previously non-recyclable material created by almost 12,000 bottles and has produced an asphalt that has, so far, outperformed the existing material.”
The beer bottle sand comes from DB Breweries, one of New Zealand’s best-known beer brands, which began producing it to combat the number of beer bottles that were ending up in landfills instead of being recycled. “DB Export has identified this as an issue and has been crushing this waste into usable material for the construction industry – creating about 104 tonnes of DB Export Beer Bottle Sand which is a finely crushed, recycled consumer waste glass,” DB Export spokesman Simon Smith explained. “This can be used for a range of purposes, including in construction, roading, golf bunkers, DIY projects, pipe bedding and sports field drainage. This new sand substitute is very similar to traditional sand and is completely safe to handle and walk on.”
A roading and pavement technology firm, Downer Road Science, determined that the beer bottle sand could be used in asphalt at a similar cost to normal asphalt and with potentially better results. The company approached the Waikato District Alliance which decided to test out the unconventional asphalt on an approximately 1,800-square-foot section of road. “We use asphalt on high-stress or heavily trafficked areas in the network to cope with these conditions. The glass asphalt withstands the higher temperatures well, whereas a chip seal would deteriorate more,” Uffindell told Stuff. “The new product should also perform better than standard mix when it comes to the amount of traffic use on it.” Consider it the only time beer and driving have gone well together.