In 2012 the Swedish government decided to mandate the County Boards of Kalmar and Kronoberg respectively to strengthen tourism and develop the glass industry within Kingdom of Crystal. In December 2014 the government decided to extend the mission to the end of 2017. Early in the mission the problem with contaminated glassworks sites was identified as one of the key obstacles for further development of tourism and industrialization.
The remediation of glass landfills is urgent; about 40 glassworks areas have been evaluated as high risk in Sweden. The pace of the remediation is expected to be increased as the total costs are reduced if profits can be made from sales of various new glass products/raw materials and metals. A successful technological and market development will prevent humans, animals and vegetation in the region from being exposed to toxic substances and will benefit tourism as well as the creation of new businesses. It’s likely that the viability of a more sustainable way to remediate than current "dig and dump" solution will require economy of scale.
Excavation is needed to reuse these areas. The existing method is to remove the material and redeposit at prepared site. To reuse the glass and extracting mainly lead is more expensive but sustainable.
Key elements of the EU KIC project
In laboratory scale a technique has been developed that separates lead and glass. The lead content of the glass can be decreased from 30 to<0.1 weight%. This means that the glass can be used for new glass products and the lead can be sold to a company producing lead. Industrial scale test is needed to verify both the separation of metal from glass and the separation of glass from other materials found at the excavation site.
If the industrial scale verification is positive the plan is to invest in a full scale production plant. Polluted areas can therefore be used for new businesses if lead and glass is reused. This will lead to new employment at sorting and glass production plant.
There are several glass works and associate landfills within Europe, so this might be a problem for several European nations, regions and municipalities. We are interested in getting in contact with international partners with the same problem, i.e. with a need to decontaminate glass landfills in a sustainable way, i.e. separate the lead and glass and make new glass
products. We intend to apply for money from EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology) Raw materials, one of the Knowledge and Innovations Communities. The application dead line is most probably in February 2018.