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Concrete Recycling: A Concrete Plan to Save $$$

Orange crusher recycling concrete

What if, instead of dumping your waste concrete, you could turn it into a material that could be used on your job sites and save you money? With the growing cost of aggregates and fuel in the construction industry, the potential profit margins for businesses like yours are getting smaller and smaller. So how can you reduce the cost of materials and improve your margin?

In this post we will provide our tips on how to save money by recycling concrete.

Why recycle concrete and demolition waste?

Construction projects often involve the demolition of sidewalks, driveways, or other structures made of concrete.

Making old concrete reusable can be a good way to reduce costs and help the environment by cutting down the amount of waste going to landfill. Concrete is an amazing resource as it can be reused and repurposed to replace other construction aggregates, such as gravel, sand and fill material - that would otherwise have to be extracted from natural resources, processed and transported for use in construction.

By recycling your leftover aggregates instead of dumping them, you can save a huge amount of money on buying material, renting dump trucks, paying drivers, and dumping fees. You could even sell the material if you have no use for it — adding more dollars to your bottom line.

How to recycle concrete?

Crushing concrete

As the name indicates, a crusher's job is to break concrete into smaller pieces so that it is reusable as gravel, fill for construction, paving materials, or other commercial uses.

A primary crusher, such as a jaw crusher, is used to break bigger and harder pieces of concrete into smaller, more manageable chunks. After this, a secondary crusher, like an impact crusher, may also be used to further grind the smaller chunks of aggregate into finer particles. Impact crushers produce more consistently shaped particles than a jaw crusher and creates more dust in the process which can be used as sand.

Depending on your construction project, you can use both crushers or just one. Generally speaking, most people will start with a jaw crusher as it is a lower cost machine that is simpler to maintain. When your operation gets larger and the shape and size of your material becomes more specific, an impact crusher becomes a better option.

The most effective method of recycling concrete is to crush on site with a portable recycling plant. This way, you can reduce transportation costs and environmental impact of trucking material to and from quarries and dump sites.

Removing metal from crushed concrete

A lot of concrete structures contain rebar (reinforcement rod) or metal wire to strengthen the structure. When crushing concrete, you need to be careful about removing rebar in order to obtain pure aggregates. Failure to do so will compromise the quality of the output, lowering  resale value of the materials. You can use a metal extraction system which removes the metal off the main crusher run conveyor or add magnetic drums to your conveyors on your crusher/screener so that workers do not have to remove the metal manually.

Screening crushed concrete

The most common way to screen crushed concrete is to use a vibrating “screen box”. This machine is equipped with screens of different sizes through which the material can be passed, filtered and separated based on aggregate particle size.

Using a conveyor

By crushing concrete, you could be saving up to $30 per ton but you can only crush until your stockpile grows to the size of your equipment’s conveyor output. Once this limit has been reached, you’ll have to move your machines before you can start to crush again. If you run a larger crusher, the time it takes to move your equipment could have be spent on crushing another 30 or 50 tons of concrete. That’s up to $1,500 dollars lost just to move your machines!

Using a conveyor at the end of your lines allows you to create much larger stockpiles and move your equipment far less. For example, a crusher with a 10 ft output conveyor can stockpile roughly 20 tons. A 65 ft conveyor with a 26 ft stockpile height can accommodate almost 600 tons. If you crush 20 tons per hour with the crusher alone you would need to move it once an hour but with the addition of a conveyor you only need to move it every 30 hours. This means you can get 29 more hours of crushing - saving time and money!

How you can use recycled concrete?

Using Recycled Concrete Aggregate

On average, about 60% or more of crushed concrete can be recycled and used for structures such as:

  • Roads, paths and walkways: to create a porous traffic surface that rainwater can filter through. Reducing the amount of runoff water managed by sewer systems, with better cost-effectiveness than other materials.
  • Garden beds: to provide good drainage and ensure walls and soil do not collapse.
  • Pavements: to lay down the foundations on compacted ground and recycled concrete aggregate is perfect for that. It helps site stabilization, bottom layer base, and backfill.

Sand or fine stockpiles

Crushed concrete makes a durable paver base because it allows water drainage. Concrete sand, also known as bedding sand, is coarse and doesn’t trap excess moisture beneath the paving surface. This helps paving stones maintain their structural integrity over time even with heavy rain.

Benefits of recycled concrete

The main benefits are making and saving money, reducing construction waste and lowering transportation costs as the concrete can often be recycled in areas near the demolition or construction site.

Today's consumers are far more environmentally conscious, and want their contractors to recycle and reduce waste. Onsite concrete recycling is a great marketing opportunity for contractors and it can help you grow your business while saving money and helping the planet!

If you would like to know more about the benefits of having your own recycling plant, check out this article: ROI of recycling concrete.

If you're not convinced, we'll tell you again: recycling concrete is a great way to save money! Not only that, but you'll meet your customers' needs, save a lot of time and grow your business. To do so, you need to choose the right equipment to make sure you get the end product you need. A bit lost for this part? Need some advice to make the right choice? Machinery Partner can help you!

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