Can Concrete Be Recycled? Your Concrete Recycling Guide

May 14, 2021

As the most common structural element of modern buildings and the second most consumed material in the world after water, concrete is produced and used at an astonishing rate. According to RMIT University, the Australian construction industry in 2017 generated 20.4 million tonnes of waste, with 6.7 million tonnes of that dumped across landfills.

Now, imagine a world where the vast majority of that wastage was either disposed of sustainably or recycled into reusable material. Can concrete be recycled? The answer is yes - not only does recycled concrete cost much less for construction professionals, but it can also be just as high quality as regular concrete.

At Ridly, we are of the firm belief that understanding how to sustainably dispose of and reuse concrete is necessary to preserve and improve the state of the environment for years to come. As Sydney’s leading rubbish and construction waste removal experts, Ridly’s construction waste team can carefully remove, dispose of, and recycle your concrete waste.

Keen to learn more? Below, we’ll outline the process of concrete recycling and help you understand the ins and outs of what is recycled concrete.

Can Concrete Be Recycled & What Is Recycled Concrete?

Yes – concrete can be recycled. Recycled concrete is material born from the rubble of demolished concrete structures, maintaining concrete’s standout qualities of strength and reliability.

The majority of concrete that is crushed is used for down-cycling processes (where the new material has a more limited range of use than the original). In saying this, recycled concrete has many possible applications, including:

  • Paving for walkways, driveways, and other outdoor surfaces

Recycled concrete can provide a stable surface that filters rainwater, reducing the amount of runoff that is managed by current water systems. This will in turn minimise cost of construction. Aggregate concrete is strong and as such, is commonly turned into gravel for use as a base for roads, with fresh materials poured over the top.

  • Controlling erosion

Recycled concrete is often used to prevent erosion within riverbanks and protect other structures and communities that reside close to water. Recycled concrete is also used to control erosion on vulnerable hillsides through the development of retaining walls. On top of this practicality, recycled concrete can be used in gardens, acting as a planting site and providing stability to the garden bed.

  • Material for mixing new concrete

Recycled concrete that is free of outside material can replace new concrete in the mixing process, saving time and money. Mixing concrete aggregates is a great way to reduce the amount of expensive cement in the construction process. It is also a strong alternative to drainage material in wet areas. Recycled concrete can be incorporated with new concrete into modern structures.

  • Landscaping products

Recycled concrete can replace river rock or gravel used for ground covers. Moreover, recycled concrete acts as a substitute for stone and can construct benches, patios, and more outside structures.

  • Structural development

Recycled concrete can be used either with new concrete or by itself in homes or other buildings. As a bonus, recycled concrete can be aesthetically pleasing, providing an aged or weathered appearance that would add a unique flair to your workspace or home.

When breaking down the problem of “how is concrete recycled?”, it’s important to be conscious that concrete with contaminating substances such as chlorides, oils or calcium sulphate is harmful and unreliable and thus should be extracted during the concrete recycling process.

How Can Concrete Be Recycled?

Concrete debris recycling involves removing leftover demolition from concrete foundations off building sites before transporting the material to a recycling facility, where it is broken down and crushed into smaller pieces using industrial-grade equipment.

Can you recycle cement on the construction site? Yes, this can also be done on-site if the construction company has portable equipment. After the concrete is broken down, it is run through a secondary screener to remove particles such as dirt, metal, and wood. After this, the recycled concrete is cleaned to remove residue from the extracted materials.

Concrete can also be recycled at the construction site itself, further reducing attached costs and pollution using portable crushers.  Concrete crushing equipment will be more effective when owning the following characteristics:

  • A powerful magnet or air separation system that can remove steel from concrete
  • Hydraulic standing to aid fast setup
  • Jaws or cones that ease time taken to process concrete
  • Control systems with a variety of controls – automatic, manual, or remote to suit all needs.

What Are the Benefits of Concrete Recycling?

Concrete Recycling Conserves Natural Resources

Recycling concrete allows us to preserve other valuable resources during the mining process. In turn, this also reduces financial outlay for companies involved in this process and greenhouse gas emissions. Concrete debris recycling also preserves biodiversity as habitats that would otherwise be used for material harvesting are left undisturbed. Landfill sites are considerably large and thus, the creation of one disrupts the surrounding local species.

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Decreases Landfill Size

Construction materials make up 40% of Australia’s total waste, with 50% of that being concrete alone. Every bit of concrete that is dumped in landfill contributes to the degradation of our environment. Recycling concrete instead of hauling leftover concrete to landfill sites reduces greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere by cutting down on transportation.

As buried material decomposes into the soil, harmful chemicals are released into the air and groundwater systems, heavily contributing to air quality and groundwater systems pollution. Water that runs through the base of landfills contains high levels of toxic compounds and can seriously affect local water systems. Moreover, toxic water will quickly remove oxygen from its makeup, potentially resulting in the death of marine species.

Choosing to recycle concrete will contribute to a more sustainable future and ensure high quality of life. It has been said that recycling just one tonne of cement can save 1,360 gallons of water and 900kg worth of CO2.

Saves Time and Money

When considering, “can concrete be recycled?”, it is essential to note that recycled concrete is cheaper to produce and therefore more affordable to buy. Concrete recycling removes the need for transportation to landfill sites and the acquisition of new concrete material.

A company that engages in frequent concrete recycling may also find that they need dedicated employees for the role. Hence, this method of disposal could lead to increased job opportunities for the general population.

Construction companies can also avoid paying landfill levies and taxes by recycling their concrete for reuse, reducing overhead cost.

Recycled Concrete Is Just as Effective & High Quality as New Concrete

Recycled concrete aggregates that are extracted from original concrete is just as effective and practical as conventional aggregates. The makeup of the original concrete is found within the recycled concrete, together with cement paste which increases the porosity of the material.

Recycled concrete has a multitude of purposes just like its original counterpart whilst coming at a fraction of the cost.

Where Is Concrete Recycled?

Many people ask, “can concrete be recycled?” and “where can I recycle concrete?”.

The first thoughts that may come to mind include hauling the material to a construction waste facility yourself – a time consuming and strenuous process. You may advertise it online for sale or pickup, leaving concrete sitting in your space for days on end until someone arrives. Maybe you’ll store the leftover concrete for a rainy day when home improvement projects arise.

Concrete recycling and removal are practices that require the necessary equipment and experience. Leftover construction and demolition waste usually consists of heavy bricks, concrete and scrap, which can be hard to deal with. It can be frustrating having major renovation work done on your house or commercial space, just to have no one around to help you clean up.

Do You Care About Environmental Sustainability? So Do We.

Ridly offers the cheapest and simplest construction waste disposal services in Sydney. For construction waste in Sydney, you only pay the amount of size needed in the truck-load – no hidden fees attached. Ridly understands how frustrating it can be to deal with a heavy and sizeable mess after construction work. Rather than trying to deal with the mess yourself and spending hours reading search results for “where can I recycle concrete?”, save yourself the trouble by hiring a team of professionals. Not only are we experienced, efficient and affordable, Ridly covers the transportation costs of all construction waste and will even take care of the clean-up. Ridly has all the necessary tools to clear these materials away, ensuring that your waste is disposed of in the most sustainably possible way. Give us a call on 0491 181 130 today!

Ready to be rid of it? Grab a quick quote from our team.

Call us on 0488 846 336.

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