Reflective Glass Beads Made from Recycled Glass

SWARCO Road Marking Systems uses secondary raw materials to produce high-grade reflective glass beads. Now, the filter glass dust generated during production is also to be put to even better use across industries.

In recent years, the circular economy has become a topic of tremendous importance. Many companies have been looking for sustainable solutions to use resources responsibly and minimize the environmental impact of their production. At SWARCO Road Marking Systems, making use of secondary raw materials has been part of the company’s DNA. From the very beginning, cullet from industrial flat glass has been used to produce reflective glass beads. And the global player for lane markings continuously strives to develop additional sustainable solutions.

Recycled flat glass is processed into fine glass granulate, which is then used to produce high-grade reflective glass beads.

Photo: SWARCO Road Marking Systems

SWARCO Road Marking Systems’ story started with visionary Manfred Swarovski and his idea of utilizing flat glass cullet as a raw material for micro glass beads – a business idea that also reflects the spirit of our time very well. Back then, nobody was talking about this yet. Nevertheless, the entrepreneur from Tyrol began to systematically put his vision into practice as of 1969. With the first production site in Austria, he laid the foundation of what would become a global traffic technology group.

A Productive Circular Economy

50 years later, SWARCO Road Marking Systems still manufactures micro glass beads based on this principle. Nowadays, the tiny glass beads are not only an important element of road markings but are also used for industrial applications. And today, Manfred Swarovski’s original intention to utilize secondary raw materials in a new, high-quality product is more relevant than ever. In many economic sectors, recycling and resource efficiency have been gaining in importance, and for a large number of companies, sustainability is at the core of their decision-making.

Regional Secundary Raw Materials

Each of SWARCO Road Marking Systems’ production sites for road markings and micro glass beads strives to continuously strengthen the circular economy. Currently, the proportion of secondary glass used in the production of reflective glass beads at the individual sites in Europe and the US is between 70 and 95 percent. “We are working constantly to increase this share further,” says Vice President Peter Tomazic, affirming to keep the ecological footprint of the products as small as possible. “For us, it is also essential that these secondary raw materials are sourced regionally. This helps to strengthen economic cycles in the area, create synergies and minimize transport distances,” Tomazic adds.

Recyclable Waste as a Valuable Resource

SWARCO Road Marking Systems also conducts research on how to utilize previously unused resources. One current project looks at the glass dust that accumulates in the filters of the production facilities. This material is not harmful to health and has already been delivered to foam glass manufacturers for years. There, the filter glass dust is utilized as a new raw material. Nevertheless, it has not been possible so far to recycle the whole amount. Worldwide, large quantities of this unused raw material therefore still have to be disposed of, taking up a lot of space in construction waste landfills and incurring high disposal costs.

The above-mentioned project aims at also putting to use the filter glass dust that has to be disposed of in landfills. Andreas Peham, in charge of Business Development at SWARCO INDUSFERICA, explains: “Together with our partners, we are trying to recover the fine glass dust and use it in concrete. This could lower the percentage of cement used and thus reduce the entire ecological footprint of concrete. In addition, such projects can create synergies with other economic sectors and together, we can reduce carbon emissions.” 

About SWARCO Road Marking Systems

Quality products and services from SWARCO Road Marking Systems guide traffic safely from A to B by day and, above all, by night. On all types of roads. Whatever the weather. From a single source. Over 5,000 customers in more than 80 countries place their trust in them.

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