Recycling Concrete: How and Where to Reuse Concrete

How to Recycle and Reuse Concrete

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Looking to recycle concrete? Concrete can be recycled and reused in many ways but it all depends on how large that piece of concrete is and what is the shape of the concrete. Reusing concrete is a way to reduce your construction costs and at the same time providing some benefits to the environment when you reuse that concrete. Here are some ideas on how to use that old concrete.

Ideas on How to Use Old Concrete

  • Reclaimed concrete can be used in walkways providing a walkable surface and at the same time providing gaps for rain water to reach the soil. By doing this the amount of runoff water will also be reduced, resulting in a smaller storm sewer system.
  • Old concrete can be recycled and turn into aggregates after it has been crushed and processed.
  • Concrete pavements can be broken in place and used as a base course 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 used in new concrete.
  • Recycled concrete from construction has been used as a material to generate new reefs habitats.
  •  Concrete waste can be used to make paving blocks, pots and benches for community use.

Benefits of Concrete Recycling

As you start to recycle concrete, you will get some additional benefits such as:

  • It will reduce your construction waste and will extend the life of landfills for additional years.
  • The LEED® Green Building Rating System recognizes recycled concrete in its point system and you will earn points towards the certification.
  • Recycled concrete can substitute virgin aggregates and will reduce the environmental costs of natural resources
  • Reduced transportation costs: concrete can often be recycled on demolition or construction sites or close to urban areas where it will be reused
  • Reduced disposal costs as landfill taxes and tip fees can be avoided
  • It can be used as excellent aggregates for road bases, slope protection and earth retention structures.
  • 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 crushing equipment equipped with jaws and large impactors. Normally a secondary impactor is used and then screens are used to work with the concrete. One of these screens will be used to remove dirt and particles from concrete and the second screen will be used to remove coarse aggregate. Then additional methods such as water floatation, separators and magnets are used to remove additional components from the concrete. Depending on the process you are trying to establish, pulverizing concrete is not the best option as it will be harder to complete the separation process, contaminating the smaller by-products.

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 the portable crusher, as it will add mobility and can be used in different locations and/or projects. Ideally, you might want to set it up at a centralized location, near where the concrete is being demolished but in an area that will not impact your site mobility. Some of the things that you will need to assess when considering concrete crushers are:

  • Make sure the equipment has a powerful electromagnet, water flotation or air separator system that can pull steel from concrete
  • Separate picking stations that allow for separate loose material
  • Make sure the equipment has separate hydraulic stands that will allow for a faster set-up, although this is mostly related to your preference.
  • Control systems, i.e. automatic, manual, remote among others.
  • Depending on the type of concrete being crushed, you might want to have a system with different conveyors, jaws, and cones that will allow you to start to form bulk pieces all the way to the desired outcome.

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