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Recycling Concrete

Recycling concrete from demolition project can result in considerable savings since it saves the costs of transporting concrete to the landfill (as much as $ .25 per ton/mile), and eliminates the cost of disposal (as high as $100 per ton).

As landfill costs for construction, demolition, and land-clearing debris continue to rise and the landfills become more heavily regulated, it makes economic sense to seek alternative means of disposal of concrete from construction and demolition operations. More disposal sites are opening up and contractors are incorporating recycling into their operations to decrease disposal costs.

According to the American Concrete Pavement Association:

Recycling of concrete pavement is a relatively simple process. It involves breaking, removing and crushing concrete from an existing pavement into a material with a specified size and quality.

Crushed concrete may be reused as an aggregate in new Portland cement concrete or any other structural layer. Generally it is combined with a virgin aggregate when used in new concrete. However, recycled concrete is more often used as aggregate in a sub-base layer.

Several advances have made recycling more economical for all types of concrete pavements in recent years. These include:

  • Development of equipment for breaking concrete pavements be they plain, mesh-and-dowel or continuously reinforced.
  • Development of methods to remove steel that minimizes hand labor.
  • Use and application of crushing equipment that can accommodate steel reinforcement.

There are no restrictions on the types of concrete pavements that can be recycled. Successful and economical recycling projects have included jointed plain pavement, jointed reinforced pavement, continuously reinforced pavement and even airport pavement over 17 inches thick.

Arrangements can be made to haul concrete from a demolition site to the recycling plant, or, in some cases, recyclers are able to move portable recycling machinery to the plant site.

In terms of the overall environment, recycling concrete greatly saves energy compared to mining, processing and transporting new aggregates. And while not considered environmentally damaging, the large volume of concrete waste generated during demolition makes it difficult for landfills to accommodate.

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