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Recycling concrete

Recycling concrete

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When it comes to different construction projects, the demolition of concrete foundations, sidewalks, driveways, and other concrete structures is usually involved, which leaves the contractor with a sizeable volume of heavy, dense materials to deal with. Fortunately, concrete is a recyclable material and it can be reused in many ways. 

Reusing concrete has lots of benefits, the most important one being reducing the construction costs while providing some benefits to the environment. Recycled concrete stays out of landfills and it also replaces materials such as gravel which is mined and transported for use.


How Concrete is Recycled


Concrete is recycled by using industrial crushing equipment with jaws and large impactors which are designed to reduce concrete debris in size. Next, they usually remove dirt and foreign particulate by a scalping screen while the fine material may be removed with a fine hard deck screen. Water flotation, handpicking, air separators, and electromagnetic separators are used to make sure the recycled concrete is free of metal, clay, wood, dirt, plastic and other materials.

There is an alternative method that involves pulverizing the concrete, but that is not always the best option because it makes it harder to complete the separation process and it can also leave more contamination from smaller byproducts.


Equipment Used to Recycle


When considering concrete recycling, it’s important to evaluate the options available to crush the concrete. The most convenient solution would be using a portable crusher that can be moved easily to different locations and projects. There are several factors to consider before choosing your processing equipment:


  • The equipment should have a powerful electromagnet or water flotation or an air separator system that can pull steel from concrete.
  • Separate hydraulic stands will allow a faster setup 
  • Control systems may be automatic, manual or remote.
  • Systems that have conveyors, jaws, and cones can provide complete processing of the concrete, from demolition to usable material.


Concrete Debris Recycling Provides Useful Products 


After your concrete waste and debris have been cleaned up and removed from your job site, it doesn’t simply get transported to the landfill. In most cases, waste from concrete removal is recycled and reused in many ways.

Here are five of the most common uses for the tons of waste concrete produced in the United States:


  • Concrete Aggregate-It is a type of recycled crushed concrete that can also be used as the dry aggregate for brand new concrete in case it is free of contaminants. The California Department of transportation allows the use of recycled concrete aggregate for different applications. Also, the City of San Francisco has approved the use of RCA and aggregate concrete for use in curbs, gutter, sidewalk or street base.
  • Road Building- The smaller pieces of recycled concrete are reused as gravel for new road construction projects. It is laid down as the lowest layer in a road, with fresh concrete or asphalt poured over it. Also, concrete pavements can be broken in place and used as a base layer for an asphalt pavement through a process called “rubblization”.
  • Gabion Construction-Wire gabions or cages can be filled with crushed concrete and then stacked together to provide economical retaining walls. They can also be used to protect embankments or other structures. They function well because of their weight and density.
  • Riprap- Larger pieces of crushed concrete can be used as riprap revetments. This has become an effective way of controlling stream bank erosion. This material can be seen along the shoreline or around the ditch pipe. Usually, the material is broken down into pieces between 10 and 18 inches across.
  • Landscaping Products-Well graded and aesthetically pleasing materials are produced to use as a substitute for landscaping stone or aggregate. There are some types of reused concrete known as “urbanite” and they can be used for constructing benches, garden walls, rockeries, raised beds, foundations for terraces, as well as paths and patios.


The Benefits of Recycling Concrete


  1. Recycled Concrete is cheaper to produce and cheaper to sell-In addition to the environmental benefits recycled concrete can have, there is one benefit that is often overlooked. Recycled concrete is much cheaper. The concrete that is recycled, it’s usually donated by construction companies looking to avoid landfill levies. 
  2. Recycling concrete can reduce landfill space significantly- It’s very important to reduce the waste that can otherwise end up in landfills. It’s the best thing you can do for the environment. Every ton of concrete that is recycled rather than going into the landfill, benefits the environment and it contributes to a more sustainable life.
  3. Avoid landfill levies and fines by recycling concrete-In order to encourage recycling, there were significant levies put in place across the country that make it expensive to dump waste in a landfill, especially for those in the construction industry. As a result, more construction companies choose to donate their leftover materials to avoid landfill fines.
  4. Recycling concrete allows us to preserve precious resources-As we mentioned before recycling concrete has many benefits including having a good impact on the environment. It allows us to preserve precious resources that are limited and should be preserved as much as possible. Mining resources such as aggregates has the added environmental cost of exploitation and transportation.
  5. Recycled concrete products are just as effective and high-quality as new resources-Investing in a recycled product will not affect the quality or durability of the product.



Recycling materials such as concrete is a very good decision you can make when it comes to working on your new construction project. Recycling this type of material will not only save you money, but it will also benefit the environment.

We hope this article was helpful to learn something new about recycling concrete and its benefits!

Call Need a Dumpster? , dumpster rental and recycling specialist, for a free consultant.

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