Learn How and Where to Recycle and Reuse Concrete
Concrete can be recycled and reused in many ways. The best method often depends on the size and shape of the concrete to be recycled. Reusing concrete is a good way to reduce construction costs while providing some benefits to the environment. Recycled concrete not only stays out of the landfill, it also replaces other materials, such as gravel, that must be mined and transported for use.
Uses for Old Concrete
Recycled concrete can be used in many of the same ways as new materials, like gravel, paving materials, and aggregates.
- Reclaimed concrete can be used in walkways, providing a walkable surface and at the same time providing gaps for rainwater to reach the soil. This reduces the amount of runoff water that must be managed by storm sewer systems.
- Concrete pavements can be broken in place and used as a base layer for an asphalt pavement through a process called rubblization.
- Recycled concrete can be used as a bed foundation in which to lay underground utilities.
- Recycled aggregate (crushed concrete) can be combined with virgin aggregate when mixing new concrete.
- Recycled concrete from construction has been used as a material to generate new reef habitats.
- Concrete waste can be used to make paving blocks, pots, and benches for community use.
Benefits of Concrete Recycling
Recycling concrete helps reduce construction waste and extend the life of landfills as well as saving builders disposal or tipping fees. It also reduces transportation costs because concrete can often be recycled in areas near to the demolition or construction site. If builders are seeking LEED® Green Building certification, they can receive points for using recycled concrete. In some instances, employment opportunities arise in the recycling industry that would not otherwise exist in other sectors.
How Concrete is Recycled
Concrete is recycled by using industrial crushing equipment with jaws and large impactors. After the concrete is broken up, it is usually run through a secondary impactor and then is screened to remove dirt and particles and to separate the large and small aggregate. Additional processes, such as water floatation, separators, and magnets may also be used to remove specific elements from the concrete. An alternative method is to pulverize the concrete, but this is not the always the best option, as it makes it harder to complete the separation process and may leave more contamination from smaller byproducts.
Equipment Used to Recycle Concrete
When considering the option to recycle concrete, you will also need to evaluate the options available to crush the concrete. The most practical solution can be a portable crusher that can be moved to different locations and or projects. Often it works best to set it up a portable crusher at a centralized location, near where the concrete is being demolished but in an area that will not impact site traffic. There are several factors to consider when choosing processing equipment:
- Equipment should have a powerful electromagnet or water flotation or an air separator system that can pull steel from concrete.
- Separate hydraulic stands allow for a faster setup.
- Control systems may be automatic, manual, or remote.
- Systems with conveyors, jaws, and cones can provide complete processing of the concrete from demolition to a usable material.