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Fire-safe cladding could solve recycling headaches

Durable fire-resistant cladding could boost safety while reducing the amount of glass sent to landfill.

Scientists from Melbourne's RMIT University and technology company Livefield have developed synthetic cladding they say is not only fire safe, water resistant and durable, but also cheap to produce.

Until now, cladding made from glass has been brittle but adding plastic binders makes it extra tough.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Dilan Robert says experiments show their product meets structural and sustainability requirements.

It's estimated about 130 million tonnes of glass are produced globally each year but only about 20 per cent is recycled glass.

"Glass is one of the most recyclable materials in the world as it doesn't lose its quality or purity, and it can be recycled for multiple uses across a wide range of industries," Mr Robert explained.

He said using more glass in construction could offer a new solution to waste management issues.

"Reuse of glass that would otherwise go to landfill will bring environmental, economic and social benefits," he added.

Combustible cladding attracted significant attention since the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster in London that killed 72 people.

It has also been linked to other fires around the world, including the Lacrosse building fire in Melbourne in 2017.

Mr Robert said safety requirements needed to be embedded within the design of buildings and the right type of cladding played a key role in preventing the spread of fire.

The research team is now looking to work with other industries around the world to explore how recycled glass could be used in different products, while Livefield is keen to scale up cladding production.