crushed concrete

Everything You Need To Know About Recycled Crushed Concrete

Historically, and even in many cases today, the only way to dispose of a concrete structure like a road, sidewalk, parking lot, or slab was to destroy it and move the remnants to a landfill. While this fixes the immediate issue of what to do with the concrete, it also creates new problems. By nature, concrete is not biodegradable. As a result, waste concrete takes up permanent space in landfills, contributing to environmental issues. In addition, new concrete needs to be made, consuming resources as well as growing the existing problem.

More and more construction companies, concrete companies included, are being judged for their efforts to be ecologically friendly. However, it can be difficult to do this when your base product is non-biodegradable. Luckily, enterprising professionals have created a way to contribute to environmental causes, by implementing recycled crushed concrete. Here’s a closer look at exactly what this product is and how it can be used in your business.

What Is Recycled Crushed Concrete?

Recycled crushed concrete begins by breaking down original structures. This can include just about any of the normal concrete structures that would go into landfills, like building slabs, curbs, foundation, and any sort of concrete structure. The breakdown begins by using industrial crushing equipment to demolish the existing structure. The concrete is then impacted again to crush it to a smaller size. At this point, the concrete gets screened out to make sure that dirt or other particles can be removed, before being separated by size. You may hear some companies using pulverizing to create their crushed concrete. This isn’t ideal, though, as it can make it harder to get out dirt and contaminants.

When concrete gets recycled, you have a variety of different sizes you can break it down to. Each size is better suited for different types of work, meaning you can get a lot out of recycled concrete.

For example, if you have larger pieces of recycled concrete, this may be used to create rip-rap, also known as shot rock. These large slabs of concrete are used to create breakwaters or manage erosion near shorelines. At a smaller level, like crushed gravel, these may be used as a cheaper sub-base for roads. At an even smaller level, this can contribute to new concrete, though you may need some additional processing to get the job done. 

Traditionally, when a construction contractor decides they want to use crushed concrete, they reach out to a professional company that offers this service. Doing this on your own can be difficult because you run the risk of having concrete that’s not the right size aggregate for your intended purpose. Building-material companies can either salvage concrete that is being disposed of or find existing disposable concrete and transport it to a plant for processing. From there, you can bring it to your next job site to use as you see fit.

crushed concrete
Photo By Christopher PB

How To Best Implement Recycled Concrete

Generally, when it comes to transport and placement, you can treat recycled concrete much of the same way as you would conventional concrete unless you are using very fine aggregate. In this case, it needs to be handled more carefully. Recycled crushed concrete is suitable for a variety of different jobs, including:

  • -Road construction
  • -Curbs
  • -Gutters
  • -Bridge foundations
  • -Base/fill for drainage
  • -Noise barriers
  • -Shoulders/medians/embankments
  • -Pavement
  • -Sidewalks

One other application is new concrete, but generally, you’ll see a mix of recycled and fresh aggregate in these cases.

So, with this in mind, let’s say that you’re weighing using crushed asphalt/crushed concrete over conventional concrete. Here are a few benefits you need to think about.

  • -Sustainability: This is what draws most people to crushed concrete in the first place. We already talked about landfills and waste reduction, but it also lowers your company’s carbon footprint due to fewer emissions from manufacturing.
  • -Versatility: As you can see from our earlier list, there are quite a few uses for crushed concrete. This means that even as a contractor, you can make use of it for commercial and residential construction jobs.
  • -Price: Crushed concrete will save you money, often by a significant amount.
  • -Aesthetics: Recycled concrete does have a different look than new concrete, which can be a drawback for some. In order to reap some of the benefits, some companies create a base of recycled concrete while using new concrete for visible sections. 

The one potential drawback of using recycled concrete is that it may be difficult to get specific aggregate in large amounts. Each batch of recycled concrete is going to have a certain amount of different aggregate types based on how it’s crushed and its original components. As a result, for large-scale jobs with minimal time, you may want to try and get original concrete you can have made to order. With that said, if you have more time, you can likely fill your entire order with recycled concrete.

crushed concrete
Photo By komkrit Preechachanwate

Whether you want to use crushed concrete as a base or create a crushed concrete driveway, this offers a great way for concrete companies to fulfill their jobs while also being more environmentally friendly. As ecological and waste concerns start to rise to the forefront, using crushed concrete could make the difference between you winning a job and being passed over.

However, when you decide to invest in concrete recycling or any new procedure/material, there are costs associated with it. These include the costs of buying new materials and new equipment as needed, as well as the time costs of onboarding your teams to use this new option. A deep profit analysis is required before you want to commit to crushed concrete vs. gravel or other conventional options. This means working with project management software like eSub. Our financial tools will give you a full understanding of whether your business is a good fit to start offering recycled crushed concrete right now.

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