Atlas Block moves to sustainability with recycled coloured glass in cast concrete products
Special to Zero Waste Simcoe by J. Keith Ritchie* February, 2011
Zero Waste Simcoe’s newest member is a “green company” and is a major contributor to our cause. Atlas BLOCK is a Victoria Harbour business, family held for 60 years and now operates also in Brockville, and their new “state of the art” plant in Hillsdale. CEO and co-owner Don Gordon reports that they utilize the equivalent of about 2.5 million coloured glass bottles annually, and growing, in the production of a wide range of cast concrete products.
This is NEWS! Clear glass can usually be reprocessed into another glass product, but coloured glass was destined for landfill until this new use came to the attention of Atlas BLOCK. Gordon and co-owner Laura Vaughan feel that sustainability is an important cause for industry. They use post-industrial waste as well as post-consumer products and with a growing business, and growing usage of these WASTE products, they set a great example for others. Atlas is determined to reduce their environmental footprint and is leading the industry by demonstrating that it can be done through University research, in-house R&D, and by practice. Their wide range of concrete products all contain post-consumer and/or post-industrial waste products.
And the glass replaces stone aggregate which reduces demand on our gravel pits. Use of the glass can account for more than 30 % by value, and 20 % by volume of the content in a full strength concrete product. In some products, the waste usage can reach as much as 36 %, and research on higher content continues. By using glass aggregate in a lower density form, Atlas can also produce lighter weight concrete blocks with a 2 hour fire resistance rating for interior applications. Fire separations in multi-unit dwellings can be created with these lighter weight blocks, and block-layers like to hear that their blocks are not so heavy! Recent fires in residential complexes have demonstrated the value of fire separations, and the value of block partitions as fire separations between units as well as within units.
But before the “DIY” inclined folks start throwing coloured glass bottles into their rented concrete mixer, listen up! The coloured glass used by Atlas is processed by a Simcoe County supplier. It is ground, mixed with coatings, roasted, sieved to sort by size for use in various products. Then it is delivered to Atlas for incorporation in their many cast concrete product lines.
The LEED® builders and purchasers of new LEED® certified homes will find more information at www.atlasblock.com. Use of these products will help contribute towards LEED® points in their projects at no additional cost, a non-typical method of “getting something for nothing”.
Don Gordon, Atlas CEO, is also an industry leader in other ways, currently serving on the Board of the CCMPA, representing Ontario concrete block producers, and as incoming President of the NACMA, the Association representing concrete block producers in North America.
Zero Waste Simcoe congratulates Atlas BLOCK on their efforts to reduce our environmental footprint as we move towards sustainability, an essential path to the future!
* J.Keith Ritchie P.Eng.,LFMCSCE, is a member of the Board of Directors of Zero Waste Simcoe.
Jonathon Shore media t: 705-812-0643
Zero Waste Simcoe is a grassroots organization dedicated to helping Simcoe County become a Zero Waste community. Started in 2008, the rapidly growing organization has worked closely with the public and government to further the adoption of Zero Waste principles and practices locally and beyond.