Is bioplastic better than traditional plastic? Is it possible to return to glass packaging? These and many other questions will be answered at the “Dematerialization” exhibition by Kosmos Project.
Throughout its course of development, humanity has created materials to improve the quality of life. Beginning with the Neolithic period around 9,000 BC, ceramics appeared, followed by the ages of copper, bronze and iron. Materials defined these periods in our civilization to such an extent that the names of the eras are derived from them. The 17th century ushered in an industrial revolution and the attendant mechanical one, involving large-scale factory production. The 20th century was marked by a great development of the plastics industry. When creating new materials, scientists took into account primarily the economic aspect; everything was to be lighter, faster and cheaper. With time, however, it turned out that the mass production of some materials, while they contributed to the development of our civilization, has had a disastrous impact on the environment. This impact now is so enormous that it has made humans change their habits, seek new materials and rethink the use of those that we have known for centuries. When producing contemporary substances, we can no longer think anthropocentrically and must take into account the multifaceted impact of materials on all living and inanimate nature in order to slow its degradation. No less important than the creation of a new material is to plan how and when it will disappear after use and what footprint it will leave. Sustainable production and material awareness mean "to be or not to be" of the human race. Climate change and environmental devastation have reached such high proportions that as it turns out, humanity has to fight for survival. At the individual level this means struggling against our own weaknesses and habits. However, often the choices we have to make are not so obvious. Is it better to use disposable items made of biodegradable plastics or reusable items, the production of which requires more energy? If we opt for reusables, how long do we have to use them? Each of us asks these questions and it is really difficult to find answers in the information chaos. The exhibition will try to dispel these doubts by providing reliable knowledge about the production processes of particular materials and show examples of unusual dematerialization.
As of the 1950s, when plastics (a common name used for artificial materials) started to be mass-produced, their popularity has been continuously on the rise. In 2018, plastics production was 395 million tonnes. Poland is one of the countries where the consumption of plastics is growing the fastest; we use 3.5 million tonnes of plastic per year and the annual increase in demand is almost 10%.
If we realize that only 30 percent of plastics are recycled, we can imagine how much material remains in our environment every year.
Buying bioplastic products and packaging is only seemingly a better solution, as there is currently no industrially produced material that can decompose safely in nature. Industrial composters are needed for biodegradation, and the biodegradability standard does not require manufacturers to create a product that breaks down into environmentally friendly substances. The popular PLA-plastic, usually made from corn starch, is biodegradable and compostable, but studies show that under certain conditions, upon contact with water, it turns into very hazardous micro-plastic, just like plastics made from fossil fuels. While many studies show much lower emissions of greenhouse gases in the production of bioplastic, they do not account for the increase in the emission of gases in the process of transforming forests and meadows into areas for growing plants used for bioplastics. In addition, bioplastic production uses huge amounts of maize and other plants that could serve as food. One way out could be plastics produced in the process of converting food and agricultural residues and wastewater by bacteria, the so-called PHA. Sadly, their use is still very limited due to high production costs. We can choose recycled products. Currently the most effective is the processing of PET, HDPE and polyester.
The impact of plastics on our health is another issue. HDPE (02 on packaging) and PP (05 on packaging) are considered to be the safest for humans. Many other plastics have a proven adverse effect on human health. For example, products containing BPA are suspected of having carcinogenic and detrimental effects on the endocrine system. Styrofoam packaging is no less harmful. When hot food is packed in such packaging, styrene penetrates into the meal; this substance is a carcinogen and has a negative influence on the nervous system. PET, on the other hand, during prolonged contact with food, especially at higher temperatures, penetrates the food and has a negative effect on the endocrine system.
The illegible labelling system and inept separation, including the impossibility of separating bioplastics, makes it impossible for us to effectively dispose of plastics. Currently, the only solution is to significantly reduce the use of plastic; when we are forced to use it, we should choose recycled plastic.
SMART by Davis
Smart by Davis are upholstery fabrics made from recycled PET bottles. Now sofas can also help reduce fossil fuel extraction while reducing plastic waste in the environment.
One of the most pressing environmental problems of recent years is pollution of the oceans with plastic packaging. Graphic images of fish and birds full of plastic have driven many activities aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste, increased the awareness of the general public and mobilised consumers. It has turned out that plastic bottles can be processed in many different ways.
Poland's Davis Fabrics, manufacturing upholstery fabrics, has launched the Smart by Davis line of textiles made from recycled PET bottles. Most upholstery fabrics are now made of plastic because they are more resistant to abrasion and stains and are moreover cheaper. Recycled fabric is therefore a new way to reduce the need for fossil fuels and at the same time to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.
The manufacturer claims that one running metre of the fabric means 37 PET bottles less in landfills and the upholstery of one sofa means 370 bottles less.
Building foams made of 100% recycled PET. Lightweight, durable and at the same time recyclable.
ArmaFORM is a family of insulation foams produced by the Armacell company from Luxembourg. This type of material is widely used in construction and transport, among others, in the rotor blades. Initially, the company produced its products from virgin PET.
In recent years, however, technology has been adapted to the needs of the circular economy, so that products are 100% recycled PET. This reduced CO2 emissions by 1/3, and in the case of Arma Foil – a material that is suitable for thermoforming and is a replacement for XLPE and XLPP, the process consumes 3 times less energy. Armacell products are an alternative to traditionally used balsa, PVC and PUR foam, and they are lightweight and durable.
The company also has the ability to produce material of variable density, resulting in multilayer materials – the so-called sandwiches. This type of material traditionally combines several materials, which can be a hinderance or is sometimes impossible to recycle. ArmaFORM produces multilayer material 100% from R-PET, which means that it is 100% recyclable.
Patagonia – the first company that introduced recycled fleece jackets to the market in 1993. Today most of the materials it uses for production comes from recycling, and at the same time created a brand that is in demand by consumers.
Patagonia was the first company in 1993 to start producing fleece from recycled polyester. In 2019, 69% of the company's production comes from recycled materials. This is a very large percentage compared with the global use of only 15% of secondary raw materials in the clothing industry. Thanks to the high percentage of renewable materials, Patagonia's carbon footprint is reduced by 20,000 tonnes a year, the amount of CO2 that 4,200 passenger cars generate per year.
The company's goal is to be carbon neutral by 2025.
To achieve this, it is still increasing the share of renewable energy in its offices and sales networks, using both solar and wind energy. However, in order to achieve the goal, it must also control its supply chain, invest in afforestation and the development of renewable energy.
At the moment, the company has in its collection clothes made of recycled polyester, nylon, feathers, wool and cotton.
In addition, Patagonia collects damaged clothes and repair them in their stores.
Do you want to learn the recipe for processing packaging plastics at home? Precious Plastic will show you how to do it. It will additionally encourage you to set up a business around plastics recovery and recycling.
This time we're not going to talk about a particular material, but about a community that encourages private individuals to reuse plastic and convert it into valuable objects. Precious Plastic was founded 6 years ago in the Netherlands by Dave Hakkens, a student at the Academy of Eindhoven. The first version was his graduation project, which developed recycling machines for different types of plastic. The designs could be downloaded from the Creative Commons website, constructed on one's own to start reducing plastic waste, turning it into new products. The Precious Plastic team has been growing over the last few years; currently, 40 people are at work on the 5th version. The community provides both the know-how and the platform to sell the produced objects online, encouraging the creation of collection points and the sharing of experience. HDPE and PP are the plastics most often processed by the community members. They melt at quite low temperatures and are considered to be the least harmful to human health, so they can be processed at home.
A bottom-up initiative inspired by the Precious Plastic idea. Ivan Zelenev set up his Recycling Lab in Ukraine with a view to raising social awareness via his business.
Jivan Zelenev set up his Recycling Lab in Ukraine. It processes HDPE and PP into open-work containers. It showcases how the Precious Plastic community operates. Zelenev built his plastic extruder based on materials from Precious Plastic, but started experimenting with the material and technique and created his unique style. He based his business strategy on creating valuable objects from waste. He claims that plastic can be reused up to 20 times, and all the prototypes he creates are later remelted into new products. In this way, the technology is virtually waste-free. Zelenev's containers are a bit like traditional braids, created by carefully placing the pressed plastic on the moulds.
The designer's activity is meant to raise awareness of the need to recover and recycle plastic in Ukraine. This is an example of a grassroots initiative that not only creates interesting products but also has a real impact on the environment, promoting good practises.
Guppyfriend Washing Bag
Even if you try to reduce the use of plastic in your daily life, you may not know that every time you wash clothes made of synthetic fabrics, plenty of plastic microfibres enter our waterways. However, this can easily be reduced.
Did you know that every time you wash synthetic materials in the washing machine, a large number of plastic microfibres are produced? They flow through the sewage system, yet because they are too small, the filtration systems of sewage treatment plants are unable to intercept them. In this way, microplastics, e.g. very fine plastic particles, no more than 5mm in size, enter waterways. They are formed when larger plastic objects discarded in the environment break down over time into smaller particles when car tyres rub against the asphalt. However, 35% of these particles end up in the environment from our washing machines. Microplastics account for 90% that are found in water, soil, air, and dust in our homes. They are a hazard for both the environment and humans. The WWF estimates that we eat 250g of plastic annually. Guppyfriend Washing Bag is a bag designed from very fine mesh, which does not let clothing particles out during washing. Synthetic clothes (polyester, nylon) are put in the bag before they are tossed into the washing machine. After the washing, all microplastics are collected inside the bag and can be thrown into a garbage bin. The income from the sale of the Guppyfriend Washing Bag is used to maintain the Stop! Micro Waste platform, which increases awareness of microplastics.
Will using solutions that work in nature help us care for the environment? Cora Ball's designers apply the way corals clean the ocean to create a product for purifying water in domestic washing machines.
Cora Ball is another solution to the problem of microfibres getting into the sewage system during fabric washing. It is an inspirational object inspired by corals and the way the ocean filters. The ball is made up of sticks covered with spikes. At the end of each stick there is a circle. The material of the Cora Ball is flexible. The dirt, which breaks away from the clothes during washing, settles on the ball's spikes. Then we take the lint out of the ball and throw it into the basket. Research shows that the device is capable of trapping 26% of microfibres. On the face of it, it is not much, yet it means 1/4 less plastic entering drinking water, because filter systems do not intercept the minutest particles. To increase removal efficiency, special filters can also be fitted to the washing machine's drain hose. Cora Ball is made of recyclable material.
The Mexican design studio NOS has solved the toothbrush problem by creating Everloop, a toothbrush with replaceable bristles. This means that 1 toothbrush lasts for 2 years. During this time, we would normally throw away 8 traditional toothbrushes.
In a 2003 study conducted by Lemelson-MIT among Americans, 34% of teenagers and 42% of adults indicated a toothbrush as an absolutely essential product. In this study, the toothbrush was ahead of the car, computer and cell phone. Plastic toothbrushes are not recyclable because they often consist of different types of plastic, difficult to separate. It is estimated that each of us will throw away about 300 brushes during our lifetime.
The first plastic toothbrushes appeared on the market in the 1930s. They had previously been made of natural materials. Since then, our planet has literally been inundated with used toothbrushes.
The problem of toothbrushes is solved in various ways. We have toothbrushes made of bamboo wood or recycled plastic on the market. But the problem is still the bristles of toothbrushes made of nylon. A bamboo toothbrush with nylon bristles thrown into a home composter will not disintegrate.
The Mexican design studio NOS solved this problem by creating the Everloop brush, which has replaceable bristles made of bamboo fibres. After 3 months of use, we remove the worn-out bristles from the toothbrush handle and throw them into the composter. The toothbrush handle is made of 100% recycled plastic and the packaging is made of compostable paper. The set includes 8 interchangeable sets of bristles, which means that one toothbrush lasts for 2 years. During this time, we would normally throw away 8 traditional toothbrushes.
Plastic production is not only about the enormous pollution of the environment by used material and the emission of harmful substances during production. It is also the extraction and transport of crude oil. Leaks of this substance into the seas and oceans are a huge problem that can be solved with the help of Oleo Sponge.
Oleo Sponge is a revolutionary material created by Argone Laboratories in the United States. It is a sponge that absorbs oil stains from seas and oceans. The challenge that the scientists set themselves was to create a material like a kitchen sponge that can be used many times. After collecting some of an oil spill, Oleo Sponge is squeezed into a prepared tank and then another portion is collected with it. The recovered crude oil is suitable for use. The sponge was created by transforming the surface of polyurethane foam, commonly used in the manufacture of sofas and in a special process of combining oleophilic molecules. This allows the sponge to absorb oil and not water. This is the first method by which you can remove oil not only from the surface, but also from the water. Usually, oil spills are removed by burning the stain or using chemicals, a process very harmful to the ecosystem. A sponge is capable of absorbing oil 90 times its own weight. Tests of the material have been performed in a special tank, which simulates water waves, temperature and salinity.
Bio Bag and Bio Pocket
Clara Davis is looking for new materials combined with functionality in the fashion industry. She is interested in environmentally safe materials. Her designs – Bio Bag and Bio Pocket – are a bioplastic bag and a bioplastic envelope. This is an example that completely biodegradable plastic can also be a visually attractive material.
Clara Davis is a French-American designer working at FabTextiles in Barcelona. FabTextiles is part of Fab LAB at IAAC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia. FabTextiles focuses on electronics, digital production and creating new materials for the textile industry. Clara has always been fascinated by plastic, its gloss, transparency and moldability. She decided to create a material that would have the characteristics of traditional plastic, but was safe for the environment. She believes that the designer has the power to change the production methods to more sustainable and responsible.
Bio Bag, a bio plastic bag made of gelatine, is the result of this research. It biodegrades in one month in natural environments.
Stored in good conditions, it can be used for a long time, but it is not water resistant. Clara shares Bio Bag know-how by publishing on her Instagram DIY on how to make a bag step by step out of a few basic materials.
Red algae and gelatin foil
Polish bioplastic, which decomposes in natural conditions, additionally can prolong the freshness of food. Ewelina Jamróz, combining red algae and gelatine, has obtained a material that can soon replace traditional plastic packaging.
Plastic food packaging that will decompose in natural conditions within 4 months – even if it is abandoned in the environment? It will be possible soon. Polish researcher Ewelina Jamróz from the Agricultural University of Hugo Kołłątaj in Krakow created a film from red algae and gelatine, which can be an alternative to petroleum plastics and bioplastics derived from maize or tapioca.
While decomposing, material does not release any harmful substances into the environment. Depending on the additives used, the foil may have different properties – it may look more like a foil bag or stretch foil.
Thanks to the additions of e.g. Maté extract, you can get a package that extends the shelf life of raw products.
The researcher is currently working on a film with antivirus properties, she believes that this type will be great in hospitals as a film for covering seats and couches protecting against the development of viruses and bacteria. The product is ready for implementation and its price is not much higher than the price of traditional film.
Websites of aluminium producers tell us that this is the "material of the future", the "greenest metal"; this information is supported by a number of rational arguments.
If we consider that since 1886 a billion tonnes of aluminium has been produced, 75 percent of which is still in use, and the substance can be reused virtually endlessly and without loss of quality, aluminium really seems a great solution. In Poland, the recycling of aluminium cans reaches 81%, a perfect result when compared with only 10% of plastics recycling, for example. Importantly, quite a large percentage of the recovered metal comes from caps separated from broken glass, from the packaging that consumers throw into the glass containers.
In addition, by pyrolysis we can recover aluminium from composite materials. Aluminium is light, corrosion-resistant and flexible. Its recycling saves 95% of the energy needed to produce aluminium from natural resources and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
There is also the dark side of aluminium. Although the recycling of this material is very effective, the demand for this material increases significantly. It is expected that in 2020 we will need 100 MT of this material, of which only 30% is recycled – 70% will have to be obtained, and the production of aluminium is a very negative process for the environment. Aluminium is obtained from bauxite, a clay rock in huge opencast mines, which damage the ecosystem in these areas. Attention is also drawn to the negative impact of the mines on adjacent crops. Annually, bauxite mines devour an area of approximately 50 km2. Without organised reclamation activities, these areas will only recover after about 100 years. By dividing the mines into small areas, which immediately after extraction are covered with layers of fertile soil, where plants are replanted and animals brought in, this process can be shortened to 10 years. Attention should also be paid to so-called red sludge, a by-product of the aluminium production process. It is a toxic, highly corrosive substance. In 2010, the spill of red sludge from an aluminium plant in Hungary caused a huge ecological disaster.
We must also take into account the impact of aluminium on human health. Aluminium is toxic for humans. The WHO defines a maximum daily intake of aluminium per 1mg/kg body weight. Preparation of dishes in aluminium vessels causes a transition of aluminium to food and significantly increases the consumption of this metal. For example, a kilogram of tomatoes cooked in a pot made of aluminium contains 75 mg of aluminium, and in a pot made of steel – 0.16 mg (source J. Zuziak, M. Jakubowska Analit 2, 2016). Sour meals in particular show an increased absorption of aluminium, which can have very negative health effects. Neurological disorders, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are associated with increased aluminium intake.
Gota is a series of lamps made of recycled aluminium. A simple, single-material sturdy construction and quality workmanship facilitates long-lasting use and recycling.
Is it possible to return to high-quality products that can serve us for years, allowing the user to easily repair and replace defective parts? This was the idea behind the designs of the Gota collection.
Gota is a series of lamps made of recycled aluminium. It consists of a desk lamp and a floor lamp. The project is a result of cooperation between OGSB design studio and Ateliers J&J. The designers wanted to create a premium quality product, allowing for easy replacement of individual elements. The device can be easily disassembled into four parts. The use of one material and simple disassembly facilitates recycling of the object. The designers emphasized this by using simplified forms, one colour of all elements and high-quality material. There is an anodized and lacquered version. The lamps use LED and are manufactured in local production plants in Belgium.
Every year, 35-40 tonnes of natural fibres are produced, 30% of which are cotton. Other popular fibres include flax, hemp and bamboo.
Although it may seem that the choice of natural fibres benefits the environment, this is not always true. To produce one cotton shirt, 2,500 litres of water are used. This is a huge amount of water; according to the Central Office for Statistics (GUS), it is roughly what an average Pole would use within 25 days. Additionally, cotton production accounts for 50% of all pesticides used in agriculture, although it takes only 3% of the agricultural area. Apart from pesticides, many other harmful chemicals are used in the process, including chlorine and EDTA, which contaminates the soil, groundwater and air. Often the final product contains residues of chemicals, posing a health risk to consumers.
Organic cotton was to be the solution to the problem of cotton production. The production process involves reducing water consumption by storing rainwater in special tanks. This is extremely important because 70% of the farmland used for cotton production is irrigated. This has caused many ecological disasters, including the drying of the Aral Sea. No pesticides are used to produce certified organic cotton.
However, as these crops are considered unprofitable, they account for a mere 1% of global production. The environmental impact of cotton cultivation has been reduced and Better Cotton has created a kind of compromise between traditional cultivation and organic farming. It involves reducing water consumption, pesticides and CO2 emissions.
In the case of flax, hemp and bamboo, yarn is obtained from stalks. All three plants are highly resistant to pests and fungi and therefore do not require the use of pesticides. Hemp and flax fibres are tough, UV-resistant and anti-allergenic, but unfortunately they crease. Significantly, growing hemp in the same place, even a few years in a row, improves the quality of the soil. So does the cultivation of bamboo. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant. Some species grow 1m per day. Unfortunately, the superb qualities of hemp, flax and bamboo do not guarantee that the cloth made from them will be safe for human health and the natural environment. Harmful chemicals can be used in the process of obtaining fibres. Carbon disulphide and sodium hydroxide are used in the treatment of bamboo. Certified fabrics should therefore be chosen. The most popular certificates are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex Standard 100.
Choosing certified fabrics is always a better solution than buying fabrics made via traditional processes. A choice of recycled fabrics is even better. However, the market for these type of fibres has been growing in recent years. Both synthetic fabrics, mainly polyester, but also wool and cotton, are being recovered. This is an extremely important process toward reducing the amount of textile waste in landfills.
clothes made of recycled fibers
How to manage waste from clothes factories? There are 15 million tonnes a year, so the raw material is unlikely to be lacking. Pure Waste from Finland effectively creates clothes from factory residues, using renewable energy.
Is a fashion brand organised in a closed economy system possible? Pure Waste from Finland proves that it is. The company creates its products 100% from post-production waste. 15% of the world's fabric production is waste. For jeans alone, this is 450 million running meters of fabric, in the form of cuttings and leftovers from the weaving mill. Pure Waste buys cotton waste from factories, sorts it by colour, then crushes and adds PET fibre from recycled plastic bottles, then weaves yarn and sews new clothes. The process is the same as for traditional fabric production, but the factory does not use dyes. The clothes have the colours of sorted fabric clippings.
Thanks to this, the process requires much less water and does not require any chemicals. In addition, 90% of the energy used in the factory comes from renewable sources.
Pure Waste is a factory-owned brand, but it also produces clothing for other brands.
Once commonly cultivated in Poland, flax is now largely forgotten. It is, however, slowly coming back to the market. Less polluting to the environment than cotton, it could become our local textile source.
Global flax production is around 2.93 million tonnes, which is not much compared to cotton, whose annual production is 29 million tonnes. The largest flax producers are Kazakhstan and Russia. Poland used to be a large producer of this fibre; in the 1970s flax was grown in Poland on 100,000 hectares. The market collapsed in the 1980s and 1990s. Now only a few family-run farms in Lublin are growing this fibre plant, but flax growing is gradually becoming more popular and in 2017 it increased to 6,500 ha. This is due to the increasing demand for linen clothing, oils and linseed. Flax processing is expensive, making flax fabrics more expensive than cotton ones. In recent years, companies offering linen bedsheets have emerged in Poland. One of them is so linen! It offers premium quality local products. Linen bedding products are a perfect solution due to their breathability, moisture removal and anti-allergenic properties.
linen and hemp bedding
Once filled with feathers, today they are mostly made of synthetic fibres. However, there is a natural alternative that vegans, too, will be able to embrace.
The materials we surround ourselves with do matter. They affect our health and well-being. This is especially important for objects that come into contact with our body and food. Our sleep patterns also greatly impact our well-being. Once quilts and pillows used to be filled with duck feathers or down. Nowadays we mostly use synthetic fillings, which are regarded as anti-allergenic. This means direct contact with plastics for at least 7 hours a day, and generation of a lot of waste because, unfortunately, bedding filled with plastics is not very durable. An alternative solution is bedding filled with natural fibres, such as hemp and flax.
Duvets and pillows filled with such fibres are produced by the Polish company Hempiflax. As hemp fabrics are very durable, bedding made of them is a product that can be used for many years.
A house made of hemp? Enthusiasts think it is both organic and very healthy. It retains heat well, is breathable and made from renewable materials.
Hemp concrete, or Hempcrete, manufactured by the Polish company Hempiflax, is an alternative use of industrial hemp fibres. It is made by combining lime with hemp shives, a fibre of inferior quality that is not suitable for textile production. Hempcrete takes the form of bricks. However, it is not sturdy enough to form a structure, so most often a wooden framework is installed, and subsequently filled with hemp blocks. This type of building has a number of advantages: it is hygroscopic, maintains the interior temperature and thus requires less energy to heat. The material used is renewable. No pesticides or irrigation are needed to grow hemp. The largest hemp producers are China and France, which produces 40,000 tonnes per year.
Hemp concrete was first used in France in 1986. When renovating a historic oak-framed house in Nogent sur Seine in Champagne, specialists wondered what to use to fill spaces earlier filled with a mixture of straw, lime and rubble. Charles Rasetti came up with the idea of using hemp waste mixed with lime. This solution proved successful and began to be used in the renovation of such buildings and, over time, in the construction of new houses.
Can the pieces of woolen rugs become a full-fledged luxury product? Seljak Brand from Australia uses them to create beautiful blankets.
Seljak Brand is an Australian brand that has created a closed-loop wool blanket production system. In 2016, two Seljak sisters created a brand that not only provides the highest quality recycled fibre products, but also advises other brands on how to implement this type of solution. Blankets are produced in the oldest weaving mill in Tasmania and in the 92-year-old weaving mill in Lithuania. The fibres come from recovered waste from carpet production. The blankets are 70% merino wool or sheep and 30% cotton, mohair and alpaca wool blend with a polyester reinforcing additive. Any used Seljak blanket can be sent back to the factory for free and processed into another product. Since 2016, the company has processed 3,390 kg of wool clippings and donated 184 blankets to Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. Every 10th blanket is sent to this organization.
The girls from Seljak also established cooperation with the Australian fashion brand Citizen Wolf. They collected organic cotton waste from t-shirt production from the company and processed it into thin summer blankets.
Glass is produced from quartz sand with the addition of sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate, boron oxide or lead oxide. The ingredients are mixed and then heated in furnaces up to 1200-1300 degrees Celsius. Glass items can be obtained by casting or blowing.
Glass is a material that can be processed infinitely, without compromising its quality. The recovery and processing of glass is very important, because when discarded in the environment, it can degrade for up to 4,000 years. An additional advantage of glass is that it does not transfer harmful substances into the products packed in it, which makes it well suited for packing and storing food.
Recycling of glass in Europe is the strongest in comparison to that of other materials; its average level is 75%. In recent years, Belgium has announced that it recycles 100% of its glass in the country, outpacing Sweden, where it stands at 99%. In Poland, unfortunately, only 62% of packaging glass is recycled. The production of this raw material is growing rapidly. Poland manufactures 2.9m tonnes of glass yearly; 50% is flat glass and 50% is packaging glass.
Recycling of glass is crucial for several reasons – because it consumes only 1/3 of the energy needed to produce this material from quartz sand and processing 1 tonne of glass emits 300 kg less CO2 into the atmosphere.
The disadvantage of glass is its weight and easy breakability, so it often loses out to plastic, which is cheaper to produce and transport.
The necessity to introduce a closed-system glass economy is also caused by the global crisis of sand deposits. This problem has not yet been identified for Poland; over the past 25 years (1991-2015), the production of aggregates increased from about 63 to 232 million tonnes.
In many parts of the globe, uncontrolled management of this deposit has disastrous consequences for the natural environment.
Sand is the second most used natural deposit on earth after water.
We use 50 trillion tonnes of plastic annually. Sand is used to produce cement, glass, but also to artificially enlarge land surfaces. This most widely used material comes from water reservoirs, as the one from deserts is smoothed too much by the wind. The huge demand, especially in the developing countries, has significantly depleted its resources. The scale of the increase in demand for this raw material is exemplified by China, which has over the last 10 years consumed more sand than the United States in the entire 20th century.
Scientists believe that sand should be treated in the same way as other key natural resources, like crude oil or precious metals, and therefore strict regulation of its use should be introduced.
The New Zealand brewery came up with an unusual campaign. To save retreating beaches, they transformed used bottles into sand, which can be used to shape the landscape or buildings. In this way it uses glass that can’t be recycled back into glass objects.
The amount of sand is decreasing on two-thirds of the world's beaches. This is related to the robbery exploitation of this raw ma-terial by man. Whole ecosystems change in this process.
It is believed that 20 islands of Indonesia will disappear due to sand mining in the next 20 years.
In 2017, DB Breweries from New Zealand found an alternative solution to the problem of the sand disappearing from the beaches, using ground beer bottles.
The glass is sorted and then ground to a fine size of 0.4-1.1 mm resembling sand from beaches, which is 0-7-1.7 mm. The sand substitution is also harmless to the environment.
The sand is processed through a screener so there is no risk it will cut people. DB breweries buy most of the sand from a local recycler – Visy Recycling, who had a glass cullet, not suitable for the production of new bottles. Also as part of the campaign, three prototype Beer Bottle Sand Maker machines were created into which the used bottles can be thrown in the store or bar and transformed into glass sand. Sand is used for construction works. DryMix Super Easy Eco Concrete was created – a concrete mix using glass sand.