• We’ve come a long way since the early days of recycling in Bermuda, but the way of the future is filled with endless possibilities. In a throw-away community,  Bermudians dump millions of tonnes of things like glass, aluminum cans and other recyclables in their household garbage. Generally, most don’t think about the impact of their carbon footprints in the global scheme of things. Others question whether or not it’s even worth being bothered. Ask them to make the connection when it comes to issues like global warming combined with the impact of the new age of Category 5 hurricanes and their sentiments change – some for the better – others for the worst. But on any given day, there is a massive pile of crushed glass at the Government Quarry, home of the island’s Recycling Plant that is being used in some very new ways. In this new Bermuda Real series, we take a look at the new wave of sustainable opportunities, that also creates new jobs in an ailing economy by recycling glass – one of the most recyclable materials on the planet and it’s 100 percent recyclable.

Now heading into his third year as Waste Recovery Officer at the Government Quarry in Baileys Bay, Allan Douglas has been on a mission to take recycling in Bermuda to the next level.

And one of those levels is stacked high in the form of crushed glass, now being used and about to be used in new ways to reduce Bermuda’s carbon footprint.

The end goal – to encourage more contractors, landscapers and even new product developers to reduce costs by reusing recycled glass in ways that are environmentally good for Bermuda.

The main plus-factor – when glass breaks down, it remains safe and stable – no harmful chemicals are released into the soil. Even if it isn’t recycled, it does minimal harm to the environment.

At the Government Quarry, recycled glass is stockpiled, stacked high and ready in a big push for eco-friendly development for a more sustainable Bermuda.

“We have it stockpiled to push it – to move it throughout Bermuda. We’re also looking to use it in other products,” said Mr Douglas.

Economically, he said using recycled glass is also a “cost saving measure” for developers, landscapers and coming soon – new manufacturers.

Quarry Garden using recycled glass as the base, covered with top soil – crushed glass piled high in the background

“We’re pleased with the growth, which has grown by 200 percent from the days of only doing the basics by recycling glass and cans.”

Plans are now under consideration to use crushed glass to improve drainage at the football field on St John’s Road, in a joint Government initiative with Gorham’s.

At the east end of the island, tonnes of glass recycled in Bermuda is already in use at the St George’s Golf Course.

Solomon Wallace is one of the people in charge of the restoration project for the new St Regis Hotel Golf Course in Bermuda.

He is an Agronomist Engineer. Agronomists “are scientists who look for ways to increase soil productivity (in other words, to raise more food on the same amount of soil”.

“They also work to improve the quality of seed and the nutritional value of crops. … They may do soil testing, land appraisal or work in planning and management positions.”

In a Bermuda News Syndicate interview, soon to be featured on Fresh TV, he said: “This is mostly a restoration project because we want to preserve the original design.

“But the greens had to be completely rebuilt, so we are trying to follow the recommendations from the USDA for potting greens construction.

“And when we were at the phase of trying to search for the materials available on the island we were very lucky that Mr Allan Douglas brought us two samples – one of the samples was from the recycled glass and the other from the Bermuda compost.

“So we took these samples and sent them to a physical lab in the United States and they said that the recycled glass met all the specs for the USDA recommedations for putting greens construction and the compost had to be safe.

“That’s why we are using these materials. This has been very good relations between us and Mr Douglas from the and it’s been very good for us.

“It cheaper for us to find this material and it’s been good for the environment,” he added.

Philip Mason & Kelly Harris, P Eng Director & Vice President, Mason and Associates Ltd

Meanwhile, at Mason & Associates Ltd, a local engineering consulting company, plans have moved into high gear to launch a new eco-friendly form of slate, to be manufactured right here in Bermuda.

Company owner, Philip Mason said this new initiative will also create jobs – albeit only a few, starting in June.

“We are aiming to have Slate 2.0 available for sale to the public on June 1, 2020, to coincide with the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season,” he said.

“We are finalising details with a local manufacturer to ramp up production to levels that will allow the island to stockpile sufficient quantities for post hurricane repairs.

“Based on the number of daily calls we’ve had since our press coverage back in 2019 I think Slate 2.0 will be well received.”

But it hasn’t come without its share of challenges to get USDA approval to meet international environmental standards.

Slate 2.0 is “approved to use to local roofs and can be made here on the island using up to 75 percent of locally available recycled materials”.

Those materials include the glass recycled at the Government Quarry’s huge recycling plant operation.

As for the full contents – that’s under lock and key.

“Sorry, the details of the mix design are proprietary and patented,” said Mr Mason.

“It’s a cement based product with sand, glass and a few other natural aggregates carefully selected to achieve the desireable characteristics of naturally quarried slate, while improving on strength and durability.

“So the size and weight are exactly the same as natural slate,” he added.

“Our product was through intensive independent lab testing in the UK to satisfy the local Health Department that it is safe for potable water contact.”

The other plus factor: “The intention is to create local jobs, support recycling and to have a roofing slate made in Bermuda by Bermudians for Bermudian homes.”

The only downside at this point in time is there are currently no other products in the works at this point in time when it comes down to maintaing or reaching a higher level of sustainable development for a small island like Bermuda.

But when it comes to the big picture, for those who contend that as a small island Bermuda to make a big impact of global warming on the universe.

Asked what he would say to Bermudians about why it’s important to recycle and more importantly, make the connection on why it is vital to future generations he said every little bit we do counts for a lot – even for a small island like Bermuda.
“It can be difficult for any of us living on a tiny little island in the middle of the Atlantic to think that any small changes we make can have a global impact,” he said.
“Alternatively, the fact that we live on a  tiny little island in the middle of the Atlantic means that we have more control over what gets imported and consumed here – more so, than large countries with open borders.
“We can ban the importation of one-use plastics quite easily. It may mean living with a few less conveniences but Bermuda could be making mainstream news for all the right reasons.
“It just takes awareness – on a daily basis.”
From an environmental point of view he added: “We are hoping that Slate 2.0 can be a positive example of creative efforts  put towards upcycling a waste product like crushed glass into something of value that every Bermudian can appreciate and understand – roofing slate.”
But from a sustainable Bermuda point of view, he said changing the mindset of a people, who resist change even if it means it is good for the preservation of the global environment, he said: “Change typically comes in small increments.
“Early adopters with open minds will embrace new and improved ways of doing things.
“With others, it might take a bit of time.”
Slate 2.0 “cuts and lays like stone and can be cement washed and top coated just like traditional slate” and “it can be made indoors and stockpiled in large quantities”.

And better yet, “it’s also durable and can be handled without breakage”. It can also be “palletized and easily delivered intact up to the roof”.

From a structural point of view as engineers they know “slate roofs are a ballast type roof resisting the uplift forces from high winds simply by the sheer weight of the material”.

“Using stainless steel screws and large polypropylene washers”, Slate 2.0 is also “designed as a ballast type product”.

“But is made with a slotted hole for additional anchorage.

“Independently tested and proven to be stronger and more durable than other slate products.

“When installed with the additional screws it will result in a roof with exceptional strength and resistance to uplift.”

In an age of Category 5 hurricanes amid mounting concern on the impact of climate change, the added ‘tie down’ feature may be viewed as an added plus.

In our next feature, we’ll take at other uses under consideration for recycled glass in Bermuda, including decorative molds, fiberglass insulation, the possibility of using it to repave our roads, agriculture and landscape applications, like ‘top dressing’ for gardens.

For more information, contact the Government Quarry’s Recycling Plant on 5013043.

For more information about Slate 2.0 visit www.Mason.bm or call 292-1327.

  • Top Feature Photo Courtesy of Fresh TV