An environmentally friendly way to drink beer?

December 11, 2009 When you think of the Morton Arboretum, your next thought probably isn't beer. But a visit to the grounds just might change that.

Here's something you don't see everyday: water being sprayed onto the ground with no pooling or puddling. It's soaking right in instead rolling off and going into the sewers. That's because this isn't ordinary concrete. It's a new, porous pavement made from crushed, recycled beer bottles.

"Seventy-five to 80 percent of all the materials that people bring to their curb with the vain hope that these would be reused and glass would be turned into more glass bottles, most people don't realize that those glass bottles end up in a landfill anyway," said Bill Handlos, Presto Geosystems.

The pavement comes in a variety of colors and sort of looks like Rice Krispies Treats. The glass scraps are rounded off and then bonded with a tough polyurethane. It's one of five systems the Morton Arboretum is testing for practical use.

"What we want to do is look at how stable the systems are, drainage is important to that, but also cost...At the Arboretum, we look at the long term so the testing will go on I guess until they don't work," said Kris Bachtell, Morton Arboretum.

Other systems being tested on the campus include a porous concrete, a porous asphalt and two types of brick pavers. The brick pavers are easily removable and interchangeable.

All of the products contribute to less run-off into drainage systems and ultimately, cooler, cleaner groundwater.

"The water goes around the bricks and the water is cleaned and filtered through gravels," said Bachtell.

The cost of that beer-bottle pavement is about $9 or $10 per square foot. The manufacturer says that's about what you'd pay for colored concrete or brick pavers.

The Morton Arboretum

Presto Geosystems

Emerald Site Services
8223 W. Lincoln Highway, Frankfort, IL 60423

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