How To Turn Glass Into Sand

Glass is an extremely versatile product, providing many utilities and conveniences in our daily lives. However, when a glass item is no longer needed then it often ends up in landfills, slowly decomposing over the course of millions of years!

  • 11 million tons of glass (bottles, windows, industrial, etc.) is used and discarded every year, but only 2-3 million tons is recycled back into bottles.
    • This is a small circular solution for glass recycling.
  • Glass started as sand, and all these different types of glass can go back into sand.
    • This is a big circular solution for recycling glass!

Instead of digging big holes or blowing up mountains, turn the waste glass into sand. It is sustainable and always available by simply mining the urban waste stream.

Natural sand used in various construction applications is becoming more difficult and expensive to extract. So it simply makes sense to turn existing waste glass back into sand, where it can be reused and repurposed in place of natural sand. This circular lifecycle is exactly what our world needs to sustain itself. Fight climate change and preserve the environment by turning glass into sand!

Glass pulverizier infographic

What is the process to make glass sand?

Converting waste glass into sand is a process that involves crushing and pulverizing the glass into fine sand-sized aggregate. Here are some of the common steps involved to turn glass into sand:

  1. Collect Glass: Gather the glass you want to convert into sand. This might involve a Material Recovery Facility, community drop-off, or pick-up from local businesses. It can be household glass, and ceramics too! They all can go back to making sand.
  2. Sort and Separate Glass: Make sure your glass is free from contaminants like metals, plastics, or other materials that could interfere with the crushing process. Andela’s glass pulverizer systems automatically remove these contaminants for you.
  3. Crushing & Pulverizing: Break the glass into smaller pieces using a glass pulverizing machine. Andela’s glass pulverizers use a flexible impact system that crushes glass into usable aggregate the consistency of fine sand to gravel, eliminating the grinding process typical of other machines.
  4. Sifting: If material other than glass (plastic, metal caps, or covers) goes through the pulverizer, then you want to separate it from the glass sand. Andela systems achieve this with a trommel separator and clean-up unit.
  5. Cleaning: Simply put the glass sand / aggregates outside and any organics or small bits of paper quickly compost to make a natural sand / aggregate.

Glass sand collage

What equipment is needed to make glass sand?

To turn glass into sand, all that is needed is an Andela Glass Pulverizer System. Just pick a sized system to meet your processing needs. No need to ship waste glass to another glass processing company. Everyone can make glass sand and use the products in your local community!

Andela glass recycling systems usually consists of a metering surge hopper, glass pulverizer, conveyors, and a trommel separator. Together, all of these components are used to process and pulverize the glass into sand-sized aggregate.

How does a glass pulverizer system work?

There are different types of glass crushers and pulverizers, but they generally operate on similar principles. Here’s how they work:

  1. Feeding Mechanism: Glass is fed into the crusher through a metering surge hopper and a conveyor belt. This can be manual or automated, depending on the type and scale of the crusher or pulverizer.
  2. Crushing Mechanism: Once inside the pulverizer / crusher, the glass encounters rotating hammers that crush it into smaller pieces. The Andela flexible impactor selectively reduces the glass into sand with rounded edges. The high-speed impact force pulverizes the glass but leaves non-glass residue in its larger form.
  3. Size Reduction: Andela machines reduce the glass with the flexible hammers and then the entire mix goes into the trommel screen where it is divided into sand, aggregates, and oversized residue.
  4. Collection and Disposal: Glass sand goes into one bunker or bin, glass aggregate into a second bunker or bin, and the residue comes out the end. The residue can be further processed before disposal.

Why are Andela pulverizers the best for making glass sand?

Turning glass into sand is a challenge because the waste glass removed from the recycling or waste stream is not just glass. It is mixed with caps, corks, paper, small metals, and plastics. The Andela Technology with the flexible impactors for crushing and pulverizing glass is specifically designed to process this type of mixture.

You might ask – Why don’t we just use a rock crusher? They make sand that way? Rock crushers grind down all the bigger rocks into smaller particles like gravel and sand. Everything is ground through an internal grate or pinch point, and it must all get small together. If the glass isn’t pre-sorted and cleaned, the metals, plastics, paper, and corks all get ground up and make a contaminated mix of glass aggregate with non-glass residue. Also, this aggregate crusher design will plug up, wear out quickly due to the abrasiveness of glass, and produce a glass aggregate that is too large and sharp, or too fine and dusty.

The Andela Pulverizer systems use a flexible hammer system, to selectively break down the glass into a fine sand and small stone material without sharp edges. It doesn’t break down the caps, corks, paper, plastics or metals. Everything goes directly into the barrel (trommel) screen where the glass sand is separated and cleaned from the larger debris.

How does it do that?? It seems like magic! The Andela pulverizers / crushers with the integrated trommel screens provide a durable, simple solution to making glass sand. There is no need to pre-clean the glass before going into the system. The design does not require a lot of power, is quiet to operate, and doesn’t rely on air collection system to clean the glass.

Andela does not just sell you a crusher but provides complete turn-key systems with all the system components needed to process the waste into the product you need. Just let us know what the glass mix looks like going in, and the size or other specifications for the products coming out, and we can provide one machine, or an entire glass processing plant to make it happen.

What are the uses for crushed glass aggregate and glass sand?

Since there are so many uses and markets for crushed / pulverized glass, we’ve already written extensively on that topic! Please visit the below links to learn more:

Andela Glass Sand & Aggregate Uses

Glass Sand Revolution: Coasts & Marshlands Restored By Pulverized Glass

Green Magic: Andela Glass Sand as a Soil Amendment for Thriving Plants

5 Creative Ways to Use Recycled Glass Outdoors

Crushed Glass Landscaping

Why Sand and Stone is Being Replaced with Glass Aggregate

glass sand used in landscaping projects

Get started making your own glass sand with a glass pulverizer from Andela Products!

At Andela Products, we have different system sizes and configurations depending on the type of glass you will be putting into the system, how much you need to process, and what the final product specifications might be for your market.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss in more detail. Also be sure to browse our systems pages to learn more about our various offerings, and which systems are best suited for certain applications.