Guest Post – Concrete Recycling Ideas for Sustainable Construction Industry


Why Recycle at First Place?

In today’s time when going green or environment-friendly is in vogue, many people out there prefer to recycle paper, glass, metal and other products to lower carbon footprint. However, very few of these people seem to be aware of other recycling ideas that can be a way more useful in limiting the consumption of natural resources. And concrete recycling is one such example.

Damaged concrete or other concrete waste can be reused in building new slabs, pool decks, driveways and many other construction projects. Concrete production involves crushing natural stones and then binding them with a compound that ensures high structural strength and integrity. Concrete manufacturing companies need to form quarries to extract stone and then transport it to their batching plants to produce quality concrete.

When you choose concrete recycling, you limit the need to make quarries in the landscapes which create a huge impact on the environment; at the same time, you help lower fuel consumption by reducing the need for transporting quarried materials to concrete manufacturing and distribution plants.

Whether it is a hardened concrete waste that you have received after breaking down an old structure or an excessive unhardened concrete mix you have incurred as an over-ordering, there are several ways you can reuse the concrete to reduce its negative impact on the environment. This is called a sustainable practice.

How Hardened Concrete Recycling Process Works

Several years ago, both demolitions (hardened) and returned or excess (unhardened) concrete were simply considered as wastage material and buried into landfills by contractors. The buried waste can transform into reprocessed stone after a few decades but they occupy larger area in landfill sites. However adapting to the practice of concrete recycling will help restrict the expansion of landfill sites and limit their impact on the environment.

In addition to concrete, you can also recycle other construction materials such as asphalt once your construction project is completed. A concrete recycling facility should have all required machines or tools to crush the waste material and package it then after. In the recycling process, one needs to remove debris and other particles from concrete before crushing it.

For example, you can remove elements like wood chips, metal bars and rebar from concrete as the recycling process varies for all different materials. Concrete pieces need to undergo repetitive crushing sessions until they are fine enough to get repackaged. The recycling plants also, use specific filters to separate dust and other fine particles from concrete aggregates. The whole recycling process demands a specific set-up including crushers, high pressure air blowers, water supply and electromagnetic separator to receive that perfect quality of concrete as a final output.

Various Recycling Ideas for Unhardened Concrete

Reportedly, every year about 2 to 10% of total concrete batches are returned to suppliers or disposed as wastage. When you consider the cubic yards of concrete produced annually, you will realize how big the figure of excessive and returned concrete is.

To me, recycling is nothing but reusing the concrete. Here I have compiled some great ideas to recycle unhardened concrete.

  • Batch returned concrete on top of fresh material: If you have say 3 yards of returned concrete, you can add it with 7 yards of new concrete mix and sell the total volume. Construction projects that require concrete of 3000 psi can consider buying such concrete batches which comprise of returned concrete to a small percentage.
  • Use it to some other project: You can consider if you have any next construction work in pipeline or look for any area like a pavement or pool where you can efficiently use the excess concrete.
  • Creating concrete blocks: This idea works pretty well for small quantity of excess concrete. You can create blocks and store them until they are sold.
  • Stopping hydration: You can use a hydration control admixture to stop hydration in returned concrete. Later, you can recover it later by batching it on top of other admixtures. Next, you can sell the concrete as a brand new batch.
  • Harden it: If none of the above ideas seems a viable choice to you, then you can allow the excess or returned concrete to harden and later recycle it the same way as we discussed earlier.

Whichever recycling practice you choose, make sure it is in compliance to environmental and operating guidelines. Instead of throwing concrete waste, recycling and reusing it in one or other way is a sustainable construction practice.


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