Doing double duty in the circular economy—creating foam glass from waste materials

The ceramic and glass industry is resource intensive, using substantial amounts of energy and raw materials. Reducing resource usage would benefit both the environment and the bottom line. Thus, many research organizations are exploring various methods by which to achieve such reductions, for example, by lowering production temperatures and minimizing waste.

Many methods that research organizations are exploring are considered part of “the circular economy,” an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and promoting downstream use or recycling of resources.

At its topmost level, circular planners account for life cycles—production, use, and decommissioning of products after they cease to be useful. Decommissioning of products in particular is a substantial issue. For example, consider the cathode ray tube (CRT) industry. Have you tried recycling a CRT recently? A few years ago, I could give them to organizations that would find new users, often in developing nations. Today LCDs have firmly taken over the display market, and the amount of lead in CRTs make them difficult to recycle. Environmentally friendly disposal means paying recyclers, so many people opt for less friendly disposal means.

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