Green Glass

Within five weeks of signing a contract, EnviroCorp — a division of United Concrete and Gravel Ltd. of Quesnel, B. C. — had designed, constructed, and installed equipment to process 45,000 tonnes of liquor board bottles annually from the British Columbia Lower Mainland. Comprised of conveyors and in-house designed glass crushers, the operation has only begun ramping up to its full capacity.

At present, the Abbotsford plant is separating just the clear glass out of the waste stream. A third crusher is being built at the company’s fabricating plant in Quesnel and it, along with three more conveyors, will be slotted into the system by late summer of this year. All the brown glass, which is now crushed with the green glass, will be separated. Not only will this make a new product available to the market, it will add value to the green glass, at present finding sluggish attention among customers, both in Canada and the US.

The process

On average, eight-hundred, 300 kg bulk bags of incoming glass bottles are handled daily by four forklifts, each equipped with rotating forks, allowing them to dump bulk bags directly from trucks and trailers into a feed conveyor hopper. When incoming loads exceed this number, which they often do, bags are stored undercover for later processing. From the feeder, bottles are transferred to a four foot wide, forty-foot sort table. Both these belts are controlled by variable-frequency drives, allowing their speeds to be adjusted to the incoming glass stream. Large amounts of white or clear glass necessitate slowing down the sort table to allow up to a dozen sorters time to recover the clear glass. Hand-picked off the sort table, it’s dropped into bins that empty onto a belt below, conveying the bottles and broken glass to a crusher. A stacking conveyor moves it from there to outside storage. All the coloured glass leaves the sort table and is likewise crushed and stockpiled.

“We’ve been in the gravel business for over twenty-five years, and we know how to move stuff around on conveyors,” says Paul Zacharias, one of two brothers who own United Concrete.

A secondary receiving scale also accepts bulk bags in the Vancouver area, which are reloaded in company trailers for the trip to Abbotsford. On one side of the yard stands a brand new shuffle floor trailer, testament to a failed idea about emptying the bags and hauling the glass in bulk to the Abbotsford processing plant, metres from the Sumas border crossing. Excessive breakage, particularly of the clear glass, led to the abandonment of the haul, but not the idea. Plans and designs are constantly being re-evaluated to find a solution. When it comes, the number of trailer loads will be cut in half.

“We’re determined to find a solution,” says Wayne Elias, Enviro-Corp’s Operations Manager. “It’s part of our company’s commitment to reducing the carbon footprint out of our downtown operation.”

Some of the crushed green glass is loaded into drop bags and shipped to Quesnel as a back-haul for trucks carrying lumber products south. There it’s processed into various grades of sandblasting abrasives under the name EnviroGrit, and distributed throughout B. C., and into Alberta. The remainder sits in a growing pile at Abbotsford as efforts are underway to incorporate it in un-shrinkable fill and road crush. Simply sending it to a landfill is an unacceptable solution according to Dave Zacharias who oversees the entire operation from company headquarters in Quesnel.

“Our commitment is to recycle 100 per cent of the glass we receive into usable products, both in Abbotsford, and Quesnel,” Zacharias says.

Any operation that can quickly build and place equipment into production as these two brothers have, is bound to meet that goal.

Ed Zaruk is Systems Co-ordinator for United Concrete and Gravel Ltd. in Quesnel, B. C. Contact Ed at