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Bridges incorporating glass powder built in Montreal

World first
Bridges incorporating glass powder built in Montreal

Montreal, September 8, 2020 – The Ville de Montréal, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and the Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux at the Université de Sherbrooke are pleased to announce a world first: the construction of two bridges using concrete that is 10% finely ground recovered glass. Located on Île-des-Sœurs, the Darwin Bridges will give a second life to some 70,000 wine bottles and save 40,000 kg of cement. Using glass powder as a replacement for cement in concrete not only makes the concrete more durable and resistant but also reduces its environmental footprint. To evaluate the concrete’s performance in coming years, the bridges will be instrumented and closely monitored by the Université de Sherbrooke and the Ville de Montréal.

"We are constantly on the lookout for innovative and sustainable ways to build safe, resistant infrastructures while also reducing our ecological footprint," said Sylvain Ouellet, the councillor responsible for infrastructure at the Ville de Montréal. "We have been using glass powder in sidewalk construction since 2011, and the results are conclusive. We are extremely proud to expand the use of these new, effective and ecological techniques to build a more resilient and greener city for all Montrealers."

"For more than 15 years now, the SAQ has invested in research and development aimed at finding new uses for the glass bottles it sells," noted Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Communications and Social Responsibility, at the SAQ. "Using powdered recovered glass in a road bridge is an advance we find tremendously exciting. In several months, when a deposit-return system is rolled out in Quebec, we will have a reliable supply of large quantities of high-quality recovered glass. We have to find new uses for this material if we want to stop sending it to landfill. Using glass powder in concrete is perfectly aligned with this desire to add value to recovered glass."

"The Université de Sherbrooke is very proud to be associated with actual projects that take shape under our eyes – as well as under our wheels! – and that are the result of diligent work in the laboratory," said Jean-Pierre Perreault, Vice-Principal, Research and Graduate Studies, at the Université de Sherbrooke. "Reducing our environmental footprint informs every major decision we make and recently allowed us to obtain a STARS Platinum rating and thus become one of the top 10 universities in the world in sustainable development."

From left to right: William Wilson, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Building Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke; Étienne Cantin Bellemare, Engineer, lead designer of Darwin bridges, Ville de Montréal, Vincent Caviola, Candidate to the engineering profession (CEP), Ville de Montréal; Marie-Hélène Lagacé, Vice-President, Public Affairs, Communications and Social Responsibility, SAQ ; Christian Marier-Pilon, director, Social Responsibility, SAQ, and Sylvain Ouellet, Councillor responsible for infrastructure, Ville de Montréa.


Since April 24 of this year, the use of glass powder as a replacement for cement in concrete production has been officially recognized in the United States by ASTM International’s CT866 standard, which both officializes and standardizes the use of recovered glass in concrete. “Being backed by a standard democratizes the use of glass powder by companies,” noted professor Arezki Tagnit-Hamou, holder of the Chaire SAQ de valorisation du verre dans les matériaux. “In Canada, the use of glass powder has been officialized since December 2018 by the CSA A3000 standard. The chair played a key role in developing both standards.”


The first road bridges to be designed by Ville de Montréal engineers in half a century, the Darwin Bridges will earn Envision recognition for the city, in particular due to the use of glass powder. The project will be the second bridge in Canada to obtain this prestigious recognition, the first being the Samuel de Champlain Bridge.