How to Reuse and Recycle Concrete Structures

Recycling and reusing concrete can help reduce construction waste and the overloading of landfills and other waste disposal facilities. When you recycle concrete, you can also reduce transportation costs since the process is done right at the building site. Concrete recycling and reusing also offers developers the added advantage of qualifying for an LEED Green Building certification.

If you want to learn how to recycle concrete yourself or if you just want more information about free concrete recycling near you, here are some important things to remember.


Machine and Equipment to Recycle Concrete

Image of a machine used to recycle concrete

The recycling of concrete process requires the use of a crushing equipment. This tool features large impactors and jaws. A portable concrete recycling machine will be utilized, after which screens come into play. One screen will be used to get rid of dirt and other particles, while another will eliminate coarse aggregate.

In most cases, completely pulverizing concrete is not a good idea since it’s harder to separate contaminants from the concrete products. Other tools such as water floatation, magnets, and separators can also be used to remove certain types of contaminants in the concrete.


Recycled Concrete Applications

Reusing broken concrete is possible in the following cases:

  • You can use recycled concrete as permeable paving for driveways and walkways. Broken concrete makes for a porous surface where rainwater can pass through, similar to permeable concrete. This is perfect if you are looking for cost-effective ways to replenish groundwater and reduce runoff water.
  • Rubblization is a process that breaks down old concrete pavements and uses them as base for new asphalt pavements.
  • You can use old concrete as a bed or foundation material for utility trenches, which you’ll typically find underground. Typically, these trenches use gravel to ensure proper drainage. Recycled concrete is a great and cost-effective alternative to gravel.
  • Depending on the recycled concrete aggregate specifications, you can use crushed concrete as a replacement for new aggregate. Keep in mind, however, that recycled aggregate tends to be 10 to 15 percent weaker than fresh aggregate. Nonetheless, they are still reliable alternatives for certain types of structures.
  • Recycled concrete is an effective way to control erosion. They can be place along gullies or stream banks to strengthen the soil.
  • Crushed concrete can serve as reef habitats. They can function as the foundation for new coral reefs. Just remember to look into the chemical composition of the concrete you’re using before using it in aquatic habitats.
  • Crushed and well-sorted concrete can serve as landscaping mulch. It’s a much more cost-effective option unlike using gravel.


Concrete Recycling Centers

Concrete recycling centers can help you reuse concrete slabs or crush old concrete for use in new applications. These recycling centers often have an industrial crushing machine. Once they crush the pieces of concrete, these are then used for other projects such as building retaining walls, stepping stones, or garden beds.

If you don’t have any upcoming project where you can safely use recycled concrete, try calling landscaping companies to check if they can find some use for the materials. Some of them would be willing to pick up the materials for you.