Beyond the Rubble… Concrete Recycling

Concrete can be found just about everywhere. Schools, hospitals, homes, offices and roads all use concrete to be developed. Concrete is extremely durable and can last for many years even in the toughest weather conditions. Buildings are constantly being created, updated or demolished. New projects mean a large amount of left over “old” concrete material. So what can be done with the “old” concrete that was once used? Recycle it! Don’t let concrete take up space in landfills.

This form of recycling may not typically be on the radar of most companies. However with landfill fees in the United States ranging from $30 – $100 a ton, it can help put a dent in lowering construction costs. The cost of sending concrete waste to landfills can be greater than the cost of sorting and selling concrete waste from a construction site to a recycler. Concrete can be very bulky and heavy which means disposing of this material can be a costly hassle. According to the Construction Materials Recycling Association, almost 700,000 tons of recycled concrete was used in a freeway project in Anaheim, California creating roughly $5 million in savings in construction costs. Finding a way to reuse or recycle concrete rather than sending it of to a landfill could provide many benefits and help keep costs down.

Keeping costs down is a priority for any project but not if it means sacrificing structural quality. In many ways, recycled concrete is superior. According to the Construction Materials Recycling Association, the high quality associated with recycled concrete allow it to meet state and federal specifications and has a better performance in concrete and asphalt products by providing better compaction and constructability than virgin aggregate.

Recycled concrete is 10-15% lighter than virgin aggregate.

The lighter weight of recycled concrete helps to increase project efficiency by reducing material and hauling costs. Concrete can be recycled on site with mobile and portable crushers. The concrete must be uncontaminated, which means it should not have any trash, wood, paper and other materials in it. Using a concrete crusher on site can allow for more flexibility in meeting the multiple concrete needs of one project. You can adjust the size and type of aggregate mixes you create for specific jobs around the site like building curbs, pipe foundations and landscaping.

What can recycled concreted be used in?

  • Aggregate base course or the base of a road.
  • Ready mix concrete.
  • Soil stabilization.
  • Pipe bedding.
  • Landscape materials.

The most popular end use for recycled concrete are to be made into road bases, ready-mix concrete, asphalt pavement, soil stabilization, pipe bedding and landscape materials. Residential and commercial foundations, curbs, gutters and sidewalks are all acceptable applications for recycled concrete.

Projects can receive LEED credits for recycling and using recycled concrete. The sustainability of recycling concrete is multi-faceted by offering a way to reduce landfill waste, cut green house gas emissions by decreasing the demand and eliminating the need to deliver and haul fresh aggregate.

Recycling concrete reduces natural resource exploitation and associated transportation costs, and reduces waste landfill. – Constructions Materials Recycling Association

Concrete recycling is regulated by state environmental authorities and each state has varying prescriptions for process and use. For example, New Jersey requires concrete recyclers have a Class B license in order to crush it. The city of Palo Alto in California requires that concrete and asphalt in city projects be recycled. It is important to check with local building and environmental agencies to learn how recycled concrete is regulated in the state you are working in.

A safe way to recycle concrete is to sell uncontaminated concrete to companies who specialize in recycling it. Companies are starting to pop up due to the emerging demand for recycling concrete and other construction materials. These companies buy the materials, recycling it properly and are then able to sell the aggregate materials to other companies to create new products. This takes the stress away from companies that are not sure what to do with all the left over materials for new projects.

National Waste Associates helps save time and money for companies with active jobs in multiple states. Our expertise in sustainable development and recycling law compliance will provide customized waste and recycling solutions for your projects. Whether you’re building new, renovating or simply remodeling, NWA understands construction needs, jobsite constraints, project timelines and we have the experience and resources to handle it. In addition to concrete recycling, we can assist with wood, carpet, shingles and metal recycling. Learn more about our services by calling call 1-888-692-5005, ext. 262 or email at .