3 Options For End of Life Concrete

Aging industrial complex

When concrete reaches the end of its life, whether as part of a highway, sidewalk, driveway or structure, there are three primary options for what to do with it. The Federal Highway Administration recently put together sustainability recommendations, which included the various options for concrete. Here is an explanation of recycling, reusing or disposing of concrete.
  • Recycling
Natural aggregate is always in high demand, but there's a limited supply, limited access and a higher cost for it than recycled aggregate. That makes recycling concrete an ideal solution for end of life materials. The process of recycling is relatively simple and there's a large market for the produced product. During demolition, the cost of removal and hauling is present whether the concrete is recycled or not, so from a strictly economic standpoint, it makes sense to recoup part of those costs through the recycling and resale of materials. On job sites, recycled aggregate even has five to 20-percent more volume than natural aggregate. That means if you have a ton of each material, your recycled aggregate will go farther. In addition, there are the most obvious benefits to the environment and the reduction of needed landfill space.
  • Reuse
One primary advantage of the reuse of concrete over recycling is that reuse doesn't require as much processing to the materials. To qualify as reuse, the concrete should be able to be used in its current form in another application. This, however, dictates that the concrete needs to meet minimum standards and typically needs to be removed in a more careful manner than concrete bound to become recycled aggregate. Like recycling, the reuse of concrete offers material savings and potential LEED credits on a new project. In some cases, concrete can be reused at the same site, which greatly reduces energy, time and money spent on transport. Depending on the application and quality of the concrete, however, shorter life span and more required maintenance could also come with reused concrete.
  • Disposal
In some ways disposal may be the simplest option for end of life concrete, It also comes with an economic and environmental cost that is significantly higher than both reuse and recycling. Removal and transportation costs are equal or higher, with landfill fees, than recycling, but there is no reimbursement. Materials are simply dumped in a landfill and left for no further purpose. There's also the concern of limited space in landfills. With few exceptions, disposal is the worst of the three options.At Demolition Technologies, we pay close attention to developing recycling and reuse options for materials we regularly encounter on demolition jobs. We value environmental responsibility and offer various concrete crushing and recycling options on our projects. Contact us to learn more.