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UK: dredged material could be used to make compost

News // August 5, 2013

The Scotsman newspaper reports that sediment dredged from Scotland’s canal network to prevent vessels grounding is to be recycled as compost and building bricks.

Scottish Canals is working with Strathclyde University on the potential money-spinner, which it hopes will make dredging self-financing. The two-year project could be expanded to include propeller-fouling aquatic plants, which also have to be removed from the waterways.

The UK-first initiative comes as the organisation expects to have to double its dredging following the first hydrographic survey of canal depths for five years. The company spends £250,000 a year removing up to 4,000 tonnes of material, using diggers on barges.

However, this is focused on specific trouble spots where silt has built up and the survey is expected to show the need for far more widespread dredging, which would increase the amount removed to 8,000 tonnes.

Scottish Canals currently pays to dump it in landfill sites, after treatment to remove any toxic substances.

David Lamont, Scottish Canals’ director of change and innovation, said the plans were sure to be popular with many of the 22 million annual canal users if they meant obstacles in the water would be cleared quicker. He said: “We have narrow boats, cruisers and canoeists, so the challenge is to make sure the channel is deep enough.”

Lamont said the project was exploring how the soil could be dried out and compacted to make building blocks. Other possible uses include soil 
being sold in garden centres as an alternative to peat, or as an ingredient in concrete production.


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