Side Story: Making Blocks From Wine


Canadian company makes concrete with recycled wine bottles


Atlas Block, a family-operated company based in Midland, Ontario, is producing concrete construction and landscaping products using post-consumer recycled content.

Contrary to what many diligent users of residential recycling programs might think, colored glass is harder to recycle in basic municipal facilities, and, therefore, often ends up in landfills. Operating with a corporate philosophy of being responsible producers, the company is firmly “on the sustainability page,” says Atlas Block CEO Don Gordon.  Through intensive research and development, Atlas Block has developed a recipe that includes up to 36 percent post-consumer recycled glass in their concrete products.  The products are LEED certified.

The team at Atlas Block experimented with more than 100 mix designs over four years before finding success. One of the main challenges is preventing the alkali silica reaction that occurs when glass and concrete are combined.  An alkali silica reaction can cause the concrete mixture to expand significantly and crack, resulting in serious structural damage.

To solve this problem, Atlas Block partnered with Poraver, a neighboring local company that uses a special process to coat tiny beads of recycled glass, thus preventing the glass from reacting with the concrete. The Poraver facility in Innisfil, Ontario, has the capacity to convert 26,000 tons of product per year, which is about equal to keeping 40 million wine bottles out of landfills. At the Poraver facility, recycled glass is placed into a mill where it is crushed into glass flour and combined with binding agents, expanding agents, and water. The material is mixed in an industrial mixer, and poured into a palletizing dish that forms it into tiny beads. Atlas Block then uses tiny glass beads as an equal replacement for the sand component in traditional concrete manufacturing.  This means that an eight-inch concrete block by Atlas Block is actually about four pounds lighter than an average eight-inch concrete block.

The company is actively researching even better ways to improve its concrete products. A new state-of-the-art plant in Hillsdale has allowed Atlas Block to manufacture a wider range of products with a greater degree of accuracy, using laser precision and touch-screen control technologies. They can now manufacture concrete that looks like pebble stones and granite slabs for landscaping. Gordon also is aiming to soon be able to manufacture a concrete block made with up to 80 percent post-consumer recycled content.

“Over the years, there have been very few radical changes in concrete,” Gordon says. “Our goal is to transform the industry.”

For more information, visit

Related Posts

  • 50
    May 2008 Block New looks, recycled materials and fast installation systems define today's block. By Brett Martin Concrete block has long been a popular and reliable building product for homes and buildings across the country. Now, block — or the concrete masonry unit (CMU) — is getting an aesthetic makeover,…
    Tags: block, concrete
  • 50
    May 2009 Block New Masonry Block Systems Photo courtesy of Oldcastle Architectural Inc. Same classic look in less time offers opportunities for masonry contractors By Brett Martin Using new masonry products and techniques can make mason contractors understandably apprehensive, especially with their reputations on the line. But new block systems…
    Tags: block, recycled, products
  • 33
    March 2014 Sustainability Linking Permeability, Durability and Sustainability By Kevin Yuers With an increase in the residential building market forecasted for 2014, the demand for concrete across North America is expected to follow suit. Extensive evidence shows us that concrete structures around the world are not meeting their designed service…
    Tags: concrete
  • 32
    May 2008 Blocks All photos courtesy of Pittsburgh Corning Glass unit masonry, more commonly called "glass block," is being used extensively in homes for windows, showers, partition walls and recreation bars, says Bob DeGusipe, marketing manager for Pittsburgh Corning Corp. in Pittsburgh. The material is also being used commercially in…
    Tags: block, glass
  • 32
    March 2014 Sustainability Linking Permeability, Durability and Sustainability By Kevin Yuers With sustainability in mind, integral crystalline concrete waterproofing products were used to restore this 110-year-old mill. The Royal Mills restoration was the winner of the 2010 New England ICRI Project of the Year. With an increase in the residential…
    Tags: concrete


Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Zachary Zuldema 1st Place (2nd Year) Winner Interview at the World of Concrete

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

Bill Dentinger 2015 Inductee MCAA Hall of Fame

John Smith, Jr.

John Smith, Jr. receives the 2015 MCAA C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

2015 MCAA Fastest Trowel On The Block Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner

Daniel Furr 1st Place Winner (First Year), Masonry Skills Challenge

Synpro Products

Masonry Magazine Video News Interview: Michael Goyne

Hydro Mobile Inc

Interview with Kevin O'Shea of Hydro Mobile, Inc.

Interview with Mark Kemp – Chairman, MCAA

Interview with Masonry Contractors Association of America Chairman, Mark Kemp

Mortar Net Solutions

Interview with Steve Fechino from Mortar Net Solutions

Pullman Ermator

Interview with Lyndon Kelsey of Pullman Ermator

Keene Building Products

Interview with Jim O'Neill of Keene Building Products