4 Innovative Ways Concrete is being recycled for Construction


There are many benefits and incentives for recycling concrete today. One of the most compelling benefits, of course, is the act of recycling itself. As the planet we all share faces increasing shortages of many natural resources, it just makes good planetary sense to get the most use out of everything we now have. Plus, every ounce of concrete waste material that is recycled is one more ounce that doesn’t get dumped into a landfill.

But human ingenuity can go straight recycling one better. Did you know that the Olympic complex that London, England, built to host the 2012 games was built with recycled concrete? And there are many more great ideas where this one came from. In this post, learn about 4 more innovative ways that concrete is not being recycled for re-use in the construction process.

Recycled Concrete Supports Asphalt Pavement
Used concrete can be crushed in a process called “rubblization.” This crushed concrete can then be poured onto a surface as a foundational layer to support new asphalt paving. According to AMPCO Contracting, Inc., if asphalt is going to be poured over a surface that contains existing concrete paving, it is also possible to simply break up the concrete and leave it as an underlying layer of support to the new asphalt.

Today, many roadways, playgrounds, sports fields, parking lots and other spaces contain crushed recycled concrete underneath that shiny coat of fresh asphalt.

Recycled Concrete Beautifies the Landscape
Crushed recycled concrete is now being used as a lower cost alternative to river stones, dry mulch, cedar chips and other traditional landscaping materials. Crushed concrete is a durable, economical choice to replace stones or gravel for walkways in gardens, homes, workplaces and parks.

Playgrounds can also readily make use of low-cost crushed recycled concrete as an alternative to pebbles, gravel or rocks underneath swing sets and climbing equipment.

Recycled Concrete Becomes New Concrete
If the used concrete is a suitable quality and coarseness, it can be used as aggregate (ingredients) for the creation of new concrete.

So long as recycling plants know how to adjust for the increased stiffness of new concrete made partially or completely from recycled concrete aggregate, the field is wide open to create new foundations and whole buildings out of recycled concrete. This also reduces drain on limestone and gravel quarries by up to 50 percent each time recycled concrete can be used to make new concrete.

Recycled Concrete as Retaining Walls
With many areas of the country facing ever increasing uncertainty about how climate change may affect their local weather, the time is ripe for the use of recycled concrete to combat stream bank erosion and shore up retaining walls in flood-prone or hurricane-prone areas.

Riprap revetments, a conglomeration of many different sized pieces of recycled concrete, can be laid along the banks of streams to keep soil from washing away into the water itself. And the wire cages (gabions) used in many areas to form the basic structure of retaining walls do just as well when filled with recycled cracked concrete as when they are filled with brand new virgin concrete.

Finding new uses for the ever growing volume of potentially recyclable concrete has become a project at some universities around the country. It is now known that contractors and governments could save 20 percent or more on construction and paving costs by switching to materials sourced from recycled concrete. This also holds true of existing concrete can be crushed in place and used as a supporting layer for new asphalt or concrete paving.

Luckily for the planet and the people whose livelihoods depend upon natural resources, concrete recycling is one movement that looks like it is here to stay. As many uses as have already been discovered, there are still that many potential uses yet to be revealed.