Finding Value in the Rubble… Concrete Recycling

Concrete makes up some seventy percent of construction and demolition (C&D) generated material. The EPA estimated that in 2015 alone, more than 500 million tons of C&D waste were generated in the United States, more than twice the amount of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). On average, 90 percent of that waste arises from demolition projects, and 10 percent from construction projects. So, what to do with all this waste?

Recycle it!

Attributes of Concrete That Favor Recycling

Recycled concrete is 10-15% lighter than virgin aggregate, helping to increase project efficiency by reducing hauling and material costs. If concrete is uncontaminated with trash, wood or reinforcing materials, it can be recycled on site with mobile and portable crushers.

Using a concrete crusher on site can allow for more flexibility in meeting the multiple concrete needs that one project demands. You can adjust the size and type of aggregate mixes you create for specific jobs around the site, like building foundations, curbs, pipe foundations and sidewalks.

Additional Uses for Recycled Concrete:

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

The Financial Benefits of Recycling Concrete

With landfill fees in the United States ranging from $30 – $100 a ton, diverting concrete from landfill can create significant savings in your project’s costs, since the cost of sending concrete waste to landfills can be greater than the cost of sorting and selling your concrete waste to a specialized recycler. Because concrete is bulky and heavy, disposing of this material can be a costly exercise.

By utilizing recycled concrete in your construction projects, the cost savings are also significant. One freeway construction project in Anaheim, California created roughly $5 million in savings in construction costs by using almost 700,000 tons of recycled concrete during the build.

Keeping costs down is a priority for any project, but not if it means sacrificing structural quality. However, according to the Construction Materials Recycling Association, the high quality of recycled concrete allows it to meet state and federal specifications and it performs better in new concrete and asphalt products by providing better compaction and constructability compared to virgin aggregate.

The Environmental Benefits of Recycling Concrete

“Recycling concrete reduces natural resource exploitation and associated transportation costs, and it reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill.” – Construction Materials Recycling Association

Concrete recycling is regulated by state environmental authorities and each state has its own procedures and legislation governing its process and use. For example, New Jersey requires concrete recyclers to have a Class B license in order to crush it, and the city of Palo Alto in California requires that 65 percent of concrete and asphalt in city projects be reused or recycled. It is important to check with local building and environmental agencies, or work with a waste management consulting firm, to learn how waste concrete is regulated in the state you are working in. Projects can also receive LEED credits for recycling waste concrete and utilizing recycled concrete within new builds.

How to Implement Concrete Recycling in Your C&D Projects

The safest and easiest way to recycle this material is to sell uncontaminated concrete to specialist recycling companies. Many companies now specialize in recycling concrete and other C&D materials due to the growing demand for these recycled products. These companies purchase the materials, recycle each stream separately, and in the case of concrete, sell the aggregate to other companies who use it to create new product. This takes the stress away from companies that are not sure what to do with all the leftover materials.

How National Waste Associates Can Help

National Waste Associates saves time and money for companies with active jobs running across multiple states. Our expertise in sustainable waste management and recycling legal compliance enables us to provide customized waste and recycling solutions for your projects. Whether you’re building new, renovating or demolishing, NWA understands C&D needs, jobsite constraints and project timelines. We have the experience and resources to ensure that the waste materials coming off your site are managed in the most optimal and efficient manner.

In addition to concrete recycling, we can also assist with wood, carpet, shingles and metal recycling.

Learn more about our services by calling 1-888-692-5005 x6 or email us at

© 2019 National Waste Associates