New access covers for roads and pavements using recycled glass fines

Published: 2 June 2021


Access covers for roads using recycled glass fines

Material classification

Glass fines

Product specifications and standards

Meets existing Australian Standard guide AS 3996:2019 Access Covers and Grates Requirements

Project type

Research, development and validation

Research result

A prototype access cover was developed incorporating glass fines for roads, footpaths and paved areas experiencing trafficable conditions and accidental parking.


Road and drainage infrastructure

Grant recipient

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University)

Project partners

Repurpose It and Brimbank City Council

SV funding


The outcome

The research project investigated the manufacture of access covers using recycled glass fines. The new covers use about 60% waste glass, 5% inorganics, 30% polymeric reactants and 5% additives

As part of the project new glass recycling technology for producing washed and recovered glass sand highlights future opportunities for its use across building products and not just access covers.

The research project produced an access cover that meets Australian Standard guide AS 3996 for compressive, flexure and impact resistant tests. Calibration, modelling and testing under lab conditions, allow it to support up to 4 tonnes on trafficked roads and paved areas – equivalent to a light truck load.

The need

In Victoria, an estimated 300,000 tonnes of glass waste is generated each year with 48% recycled into glass. The residual 52% of glass waste is determined to be glass fines and this is stockpiled and presents a key market opportunity.

Glass fines are the small glass particles (typically between 3 and 8 millimetres in size) that are broken during commingled recycling collection, transportation and processing.

An access cover is a removable cover for an access chamber or inspection chamber that is designed for footpaths or paved areas. Access covers enable access to energy, telecommunications, water utility services as well as sewer/water infrastructure and storm water drainage.

As an ancillary infrastructure product access covers have historically relied on traditional materials associated with basic construction methods. This project identified the need for resource preservation through innovation in glass waste to combat the excessive material cost in standard construction methods

Developing the solution

The project was delivered through three stages including critical factors and testing, results analysis and optimisation, lab manufacturing and performance testing.

The detailed lab experimental program involved two stages. First, an optimum mix design was identified through the results of an extensive lab program. A number of different formulations and glass particle sizes were tested to identify the optimum formulation across several viable options. Sample tests were also conducted to assess the time dependent behaviour of identified mixes. The results from these experiments were then used to identify the optimum formulation of recycled glass fines to manufacture prototype.

Additionally, finite element studies were conducted to evaluate the stress-deformation effect of access cover under loadings as well as to calibrate the FE models for geometric optimization studies in future. The new covers use about 60% waste glass, 5% inorganics, 30% polymeric reactants and 5% additives.

The partnership

RMIT University was the project lead and their laboratories were used for the initial optimal design mix investigations.

The project included a council partnership with Brimbank City Council and industry partner in Repurpose It, who they provided the glass fines.

Pathway to commercialisation

The project team is planning this next stage that includes additional investment, further laboratory work, product certification, manufacturing and field installation to take the access covers and technology to market ready stage.

The research project’s excellent results assisted in obtaining federal government funding from corporate research centre project (CRC-P) grants.

The grant is valued at $485,000 and has been awarded to Livefield Pty Ltd, RMIT, The Trustee for Harris HMC Interiors and Recycled Glass Technology Pty Ltd.

This CRC-P will develop new applications with existing recycled glass stabilising technology to manufacture building materials. The technology utilises 65% waste glass content bringing improvements to building safety and performance while achieving environmental outcomes. The funding will expedite the development of the technology supporting the Australian Government’s National Waste Policy Action Plan that aims at turning our waste into valuable commodities and products with recycled content. This innovation and research will play an important role in developing sustainable technologies while boosting domestic jobs and industries.


More information

For more about this project, email