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How to Recycle Concrete

As new construction projects take place and demolition takes its course, concrete is one of the only debris that remains. In fact, cement makes up 25% of all national solid waste left over from construction projects. 

It isn't practical to dump tons of concrete debris into landfills. Doing so is actually expensive and can contribute to environmental pollution. If you've recently finished a massive construction project, you may be wondering what you should do with the remaining concrete. 

The best solution is to recycle concrete, so here is everything you need to know about how the entire process unfolds.

 

Why You Should Recycle Concrete

Why You Should Recycle Concrete

Nearly 70% of all waste left over from construction and demolition projects is concrete. Once a project is completed, not many people are concerned about where the concrete debris ends up. 

Leftover debris is usually transported and dumped into a landfill, where it can send harmful pollutants into the air and surrounding water. These consequences have caused more people to consider recycling. 

Rightfully so, recycling concrete provides helpful benefits to contractors and supervisors on a construction site. The benefits of recycling concrete are:

  • Recycling concrete conserves natural resources, namely water. Recycling can also improve air quality. Recycling one ton of cement can preserve 900 kilograms of carbon dioxide and more than 1,000 pounds of water
  • Recycling concrete can reduce pollution and create a healthier and safer world. 
  • The practice of recycling can help construction managers save money in transporting concrete to landfills. 
  • Recycling can create more space for landfills.
  • Recycling concrete can even promote more jobs in the construction industry.

When you decide to recycle concrete, you're actively protecting the environment from pollution. Recycled concrete can also be reused in other construction projects. 

 

Uses for Recycled Concrete

Uses for Recycled Concrete

Recycled concrete can be used in many different ways, just like gravel and other paving materials. Recycled concrete is particularly used for:

  • Outdoor hard surfaces, pavements, and driveways
  • A base layer for asphalt paving
  • A substitute for gravel to cover trenches
  • An additive for mixing new concrete
  • Mulch for lawns and gardens
  • Commercial flooring materials

Leftover concrete doesn't have to be thrown away in landfills never to be used again. It can be cleverly repurposed to help construction managers save money in buying new concrete to use. 

This strategy is so beneficial that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is considering recycling concrete to construct new highways from old materials

 

 

The Concrete Recycling Process

The Concrete Recycling Process

You can recycle and repurpose old concrete by using a grinding machine. These devices are installed with powerful jaws that can break up the toughest concrete into bite-sized bits. 

Industrial grinders, after breaking up the concrete, will comb through the debris again to create smaller chunks. The grinder will then remove all particles from the debris for future use. 

Grinders don't crush concrete into a fine powder. Instead, these devices create small and large chunks that can be used for different purposes. To clean an entire construction site of leftover concrete, portable grinders can be used.

Portable grinders can navigate throughout a job site and clean up any remains without getting in the way of crew members. In fact, portable grinder attachments can be added to construction equipment to crush more than 100 tons of concrete per hour. 

If you are planning to purchase a portable concrete grinder, you should consider these factors:

  • The grinder should be equipped with a powerful magnet or similar device to pull metal from the concrete. 
  • Manual, automatic, and even remote operated grinders are available to meet different needs. 
  • Select a grinder that can completely process concrete, from debris to a material you can use. 

Recycling concrete is as simple as purchasing a high-quality grinder. Below, you'll learn simple methods you can use to begin the process by yourself. 

 

 

How to Recycle Concrete Yourself

After purchasing a grinder and processing concrete debris, you'll be left with a usable product you can repurpose. Below, you can find additional information on how to recycle old concrete and turn it into a new product. 

 

Landscaping

Landscaping

Gravel mulch is used in homes across the United States to choke weeds and enhance gardening beds. Instead of purchasing new bags of gravel, you can use old concrete to achieve the same effect. 

 

Flooring

Flooring

Old concrete can also be repurposed to create commercial flooring materials, pavements, and driveways. Recycled concrete can either be used as the main ingredient for flooring or as a base. 

 

Filling Holes

Filling Holes

If there are any trenches or holes on or inside a property, they can be filled with old concrete. If you're operating on a tight budget, this is an excellent way to save money on purchasing new products. 

 

Reinforcing New Concrete

Reinforcing New Concrete

If you plan on creating solid concrete for special use, you can add old concrete to strengthen the entire mixture. Old concrete can be used as an alternative instead of gravel, sand, and other additives. 

 

Improving Runoff

Improving Runoff

Old concrete can be used to create a porous surface. To reduce the amount of water runoff on parking lots, driveways, and other outdoor surfaces, old concrete can drain excess water and divert it to another location. 

 

 

Start Recycling Concrete Today

Old concrete doesn't need to be thrown away. It can serve additional purposes on a job site and help construction managers save money in purchasing new products. If you're interested in recycling, you'll need to buy a high-performance grinder.

OnFloor Technologies provides premium grinder products to help you get started. Click here to browse our wide selection of concrete grinders. 

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