Many construction projects these days typically involve some type of demolition work in the early stages. This demolition work could include removing concrete foundations, sidewalks, driveways, walls and other building elements. At the end of the day, a large chunk of construction materials typically goes to waste.
Thankfully, many materials, including concrete, can be recycled and reused differently. Usually, the recycling process for concrete varies, so the best method for each project will depend on the shape and size of the concrete pieces to be recycled.
A lot of benefits come from reusing concrete. For instance, it helps reduce construction costs, as you won’t incur the extra cost of transporting concrete to the landfill. Similarly, recycling concrete eliminates disposal costs while reducing the project’s environmental impact.
Since you won’t be taking concrete to landfills, you can use them as raw materials for making building materials, including gravel. This would save you the extra cost of transporting gravel to the job site.
How to Recycle Concrete?
Even though there are several ways to recycle old concrete from demolition, we have put together the most common procedure. Here, check them out:
Step 1: You first need to crush large pieces of concrete using special industrial machines with jaws and large impactors.
Step 2: After breaking down the concrete, you need to screen it to remove any particles or dirt. You can follow up with additional equipment like water flotation, separators, magnets and more. By doing so, you are able to remove other impurities from the concrete.
Step 3: Finally, separate the small aggregate from the large concrete.
Besides this method, another popular method for recycling old concrete involves pulverization. Unfortunately, this method tends to complicate the separation process. Not just that, it can also result in more contamination from smaller byproducts.
As reiterated above, you’ll need industrial equipment to recycle concrete efficiently. Before you kick off any concrete recycling procedure, endeavor to evaluate all options on the market, especially with respect to the crushing procedure. If you don’t have the money to buy the industrial equipment needed to recycle old concrete from demolition, you can hire a portable crusher for the project. This is by far a cheaper option than buying one.
Before you decide which industrial equipment is suitable for your project, its important to factor in the following:
- Concrete must be separated from the steel. To this end, you want to ensure that the industrial equipment you plan to use has a powerful separator to remove steel from concrete.
- A machine with a separate hydraulic stand is the best option as it is quicker to set up.
- Control systems can be either manual, remote controlled or automatic. So consider what’s best for your projects. Keep in mind that this also plays a significant role in influencing the price of the equipment.
- Some top-notch equipment have an entire system, which includes conveyors, jaws and cones. This type of equipment can handle the entire recycling process, from demolition to processing the final reusable product.
Are there any benefits of recycling concrete?
There are a lot of perks that come with recycling concrete at construction sites. Here are a few benefits you should know:
- To start with, recycling concrete helps to reduce construction waste.
- By recycling concrete, you are playing your role in extending the lifespan of landfills.
- Recycling concrete helps to reduce the cost that would have gone into waste disposal.
- Since recycling concrete can be done near demolition sites, it will lower transportation costs significantly.
- By recycling concrete, you’ll be able to earn LEED certification points.
- Another exciting thing about concrete recycling is that it generates employment opportunities.
What can you use recycled concrete for?
Recycled concrete has a lot of uses. Just so you know, you can use recycled concrete pretty much the same way you use gravel and aggregates. That said, here are some of the popular ways to reuse recycled concrete.
The base for new asphalt pavement: Old concrete pavement can be broken down and used as a base for asphalt in a process called rubbilization.
Landscaping: Recycled concrete that has been neatly broken down into small pieces can be used for landscaping mulch. So instead of buying gravel, you can simply get recycled concrete. Plus, it is a much cheaper option.
Outdoor surfaces: Recycled concrete can be used in parking lots, driveways, and walkways. Using recycled concrete in these areas helps to reduce runoff. Again, permeable concrete is great for replenishing groundwater levels. You can even use crushed concrete to create porous surfaces in some places. This works the same as permeable concrete.
Bed foundation materials for utility trenches: Most times, these types of trenches are typically covered with gravel to manage drainage. Using recycled concrete instead of gravel wouldn’t be such a bad option, especially since you get the same result, albeit at a much cheaper price.
Erosion barriers: Large chunks of broken concrete can be nicely fitted along stream banks to manage erosion. Also, recycled concrete can be used along shorelines as a form of foundation for coral reefs. That said, always double-check the chemical components of old concrete before using it around aquatic habitats.
Concrete aggregates: You can use recycled concrete as a replacement for new aggregates in concrete mixtures.
Note: The cool thing about recycled concrete is that it saves you extra bucks on both new materials and disposal. More so, it can be reused in various ways during the construction process. The icing on the cake is that recycled concrete also reduces the environmental effects of building projects.
Frequently asked questions
Is recycling concrete expensive?
Compared to the amount you’ll spend building new concrete, recycling old concrete will certainly lower your overall project cost. More so, recycled concrete has a lot of uses and benefits.
What happens if I use old concrete?
Using old concrete doesn’t affect your project’s quality. As a matter of fact, old unneeded concrete can be used in several ways. On the one hand, you can use recycled concrete to create recycled aggregate. Also, you can use recycled concrete along with virgin materials to create new concrete.
Can you mix old concrete with new concrete?
It’s possible to mix old concrete with new concrete. As a matter of fact, mixing old concrete with new concrete is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly.