In recent years, recycling concrete has become more popular among builders. When a building is torn down, there is often a large amount of concrete leftover that the industry has begun to tap into. In the past, this waste would have ended up in a landfill as a non-biodegradable material. Instead, it can be repurposed for other projects, benefiting everyone in the process. While you may still need to find new concrete forms for sale, concrete itself can now have a longer lifespan by being a part of multiple structures and jobs over time.
It’s Extremely Safe
Most people’s first question about recycled concrete is whether it is safe to use. While we know concrete is sturdy and reliable, it can be disconcerting to know it has been torn down previously. Recycled concrete aggregates are different than newly manufactured and poured concrete- the pieces are all carefully screened to remove any steel, metal, or debris that could compromise integrity. It is then crushed down to size depending on the needs of the project.
Screening is even more thorough when the intended use is for driveways, roads, or parking lots, in order to make sure the material is DOT approved.
Like most recycled materials, concrete aggregates that have been used before generally cost less. This allows for homeowners and contractors both to save money, laying down a sturdy foundation for the fraction of a price. More of the budget can then be spent on other areas of a project.
Don’t let the lower price tag fool you- recycled materials are just as good as brand new ones. Part of the reason for a lower cost is that less material and labor are needed to produce the concrete in the first place, leading to the lower price tag. In case your wondering about different concrete forms and their uses for building structure.
It’s Environmentally Friendly
One of the most important reasons people choose recycled concrete is that it is a “green” construction material. The process of harvesting stone and crushing it down to size will require the use of multiple natural resources and mechanical processing that have an environmental impact. Unwanted concrete has already been created and can then be reused with very little processing, leaving the natural materials needed for further production untouched. Using these materials also means they will not end up in a landfill, taking up space as a non-biodegradable material.
Additionally, recycling one ton of cement can save up to 1,360 gallons of water. There is also a reduction in trucking and pollution due to the recycling of concrete.
The Federal Highway Administration has conducted a number of studies, and all agree that despite being based on concrete scrap, recycled materials are just as structurally sound, reliable, and safe as natural materials created for the same purpose. This includes the ability to last for a long time, even when being used constantly, such as on a highway.
A wide range of uses for recycled concrete aggregates are available, from highways to home projects.
Residential applications often include base projects. Before laying down a new driveway, walkway, or patio, a sturdy base layer must be present. Because homeowners are generally hoping to control costs, recycled materials can offer them the same high-performance standards without cutting into the budget.
In commercial or municipal applications, the same base needs apply. Parking lots and roads are heavily trafficked and require a very sturdy base that uses DOT-approved materials. Safe roadways can be built on recycled materials. Some contractors will also use these as a base for new buildings as well as pipe bedding and drainage projects.
One other use is on construction sites themselves, where you may see recycled material laid down at the entrance to the site to stop the tracking of mud. Improvements to drainage systems, prevention of shoreline erosion, and an alternative to organic mulch are all other common places you may see recycled concrete used.
It’s Easy to Find
There are a number of active concrete recycling plants to choose from with a large amount of material. Whether you need a small piece of concrete or a bulk amount, because of how common concrete is, there is always some to be found.