What Is Glass Aggregate?

B. Turner

Glass aggregate consists of small pellets of crushed glass, also known as cullet. This glass generally comes from recycled products like bottles or windows, and is pulverized and tumbled to break it into small pieces with relatively smooth edges. Glass aggregate serves as an effective alternative to traditional rock or gravel in the building and landscaping fields. By combining different colors of glass cullet, manufacturers can create unique and attractive finishes to replace the basic gray or tan shades associated with standard aggregate products.

Glass aggregate can be added to concrete for a decorative appearance.
Glass aggregate can be added to concrete for a decorative appearance.

Landscaping offers many opportunities to incorporate glass aggregate in place of regular rocks and gravel. It's also one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for most users to apply this product to their home. Bags of crushed glass can be used in place of gravel in a planting bed, or to line a pathway in the back yard. They also serve as a colorful base within a fire pit, where they help to catch and reflect the light of the flames. Glass aggregate can also be used on both large and small-scale drainage projects.

In the home, this product can be used to fill a vase to support cut or artificial flowers. It also serves as an attractive covering for the base of an aquarium or garden pond. Finally, glass aggregate may be used in place of gravel as a form of ballast for asphalt and rubber roofing.

Manufacturers commonly add glass aggregate to decorative concrete products. By washing away the top layer of concrete, installers reveal the colored glass below, giving the concrete a bright and decorative appearance. This product can be used in concrete floors and patios as well as in kitchen countertops. It may be applied to a terrazzo floor, or embedded into standard floor or wall tiles. Glass aggregate also makes for an attractive finish within the lining of a built-in pool.

While many buyers choose glass aggregate to add color and sparkle to traditional finishes, this product also offers a number of environmental benefits. Recycling glass helps to divert this waste from a landfill, and also reduces the energy devoted to extracting and crushing gravel and rocks into aggregate. Best of all, this process serves as one of the only methods of recycling window glass and other hard-to-recycle glass products.

Typically, glass aggregate costs more than rock or stone. For applications where the aggregate will be hidden from view, buyers may not find sufficient value in this product to justify the higher cost. There is also some risk of an alkali-silica reaction between concrete and glass when these two products are combined. This type of reaction could potentially pose a threat to health, but little evidence exists to support this effect.

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