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Blast Off: New Age Blasting Media uses recycled glass in a creative way


Did you know that most blast cleaning in the United States—used on public spaces like bridges, buildings and sidewalks—is done with industrial coal waste? Yup, industrial coal waste (or coal slag): the very same substance causing an environmental and public health disaster after a spill in Tennessee, and the same black muck that Lesley Stahl was warned to wash off her boots during a recent 60 Minutes piece. That by-product—which the government currently encourages companies to “recycle” by finding any possible use for it—is known to contain toxins like arsenic, lead and selenium. The Ben Franklin Bridge was recently cleaned using coal slag. (It took about 10 trucks full of waste to do the job.)

“What’s scary about it is that people just don’t know,” says Paul Mellon, president and founder of New Age Blasting Media. His company, which is based in Philadelphia’s Naval Yard, takes unusable recycled glass and grinds it into an industrial abrasive that can be used for blast cleaning or preparation of surfaces. Their product is not only 100 percent recycled—and reduces the amount of waste in landfills—but also replaces products that are known to be both carcinogenic and harmful to the environment. New Age Blasting Media was recently used to clean the Market Street Bridge.

New Age is also looking into other uses for their product. The King of Prussia Mall recently used their glass to repave a walkway. The mall liked the green appeal of the glass, and the LEED-based tax credit that came with it. New Age is also exploring manufacturing media for fish tanks and public ashtrays under the name NovaSand ( Ready for a shock? The “black sand” you currently see in public ashtray stands? Industrial coal waste. Some brands of fish tank pebbles? Industrial coal waste. Walmart was selling “black sand” until a meeting with Mellon this summer—he informed them that what they were selling was a substance containing 11 of the top 13 toxic compounds. They no longer carry the product.

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