When it comes to cleaning up after a demolition project, few materials can be reused and recycled as easily as concrete.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), concrete accounts for a full 70 percent of all construction and demolition (C&D) debris in the United States, with asphalt concrete a distant second at 14 percent. Given the cost-savings that C&D recycling can bring (recycled concrete is less expensive to purchase than virgin concrete), and that recycled concrete is a highly sought-after material, it is no surprise that concrete recycling is commonplace among construction companies, and here at Rubicon we encourage recycling this material whenever possible.

The potential for concrete recycling should not be overlooked. While concrete debris was routinely sent to landfills in the past, the need by many organizations to make progress in terms of achieving sustainable and environmentally friendly business practices has expedited an increase in this recycling category.

If you are a business looking to dispose of old concrete from a demolition project (and you don’t want to pay landfill tipping fees), read on…

How Concrete Recycling Works

When it comes time for concrete to be recycled, the concrete recycling machine, which is often portable, is moved to the location of the concrete debris. This debris is then picked up and dumped into the top of the concrete recycling machine, from which it falls into a crushing impactor, which as the name suggests, crushes the concrete into small pieces known as recycled concrete aggregate (RCA). Depending on the size of RCA that the concrete recycler is looking to create, the RCA might be reloaded into the concrete recycling “crusher” on a lower setting to create even smaller pieces of concrete aggregate. At this stage, the RCA passes by a strong magnet to ensure that any rebar steel is removed from the concrete aggregate. The finished product is then ejected out the other end of the machine.

What is Recycled Concrete Aggregate (RCA)?

Not only is it possible to recycle concrete, recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) is a highly sought-after material that provides construction companies with a cost-efficient material that can be used in a variety of repurposing situations.

You can purchase RCA in different sizes depending on what is required of it, including 21’s, 57’s, 3’s, riprap, and more, with the per-ton cost of RCA typically much less than that of regular stone, while still providing the same strength.

There is also a sustainability element to this. When you choose to use RCA on a new construction project, whether commercial or residential, you are protecting our planet’s precious natural resources by reusing a material that already exists (and would otherwise be buried in a landfill) instead of mining new gravel. Utilizing concrete recycling allows businesses of all sizes to stand up for our environment, while still using a strong, quality product, and saving money at the same time.

Uses of Recycled Concrete

Similar to many recycled materials, recycled concrete can, for the most part, be used in the same way that it is used when it was first produced. Here are some of the most common uses for RCA:

  • Aggregate road base material: RCA is laid on top of a dirt base, on which a layer of either asphalt or concrete is placed on top. This is one of the most common uses of RCA.
  • Paving: In its purest form, recycled concrete can be used as permeable paving for driveways and other outdoor surfaces. When RCA is laid professionally it allows for a strong surface through which rainwater can easily infiltrate to prevent pooling.
  • Foundational material: Whether being used as bedding for underground pipes and other utilities, or simply as a strong material that can assist with drainage, RCA is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly foundational material.
  • Soil stabilization material: If you live in a part of the country where soil erosion is an issue, recycled concrete can be used to offset this process and strengthen the soil; especially around streams and lakes.
  • Aggregate for new concrete: RCA is often added to ready-mix concrete to reduce the amount of new materials that need to be used.

Where Rubicon Comes In

Here at Rubicon®, our concrete recycling solutions team can help you find the most cost-efficient way to recycle any concrete debris you have on your business’s property, or if required, help you look into purchasing RCA for future construction projects.

If you have any questions, or you’re interested in speaking with me about our construction and demolition waste and recycling solutions, you can contact me any time at chris.batterson@rubiconglobal.com.

Chris Batterson is Key Construction and Demolition Account Manager at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.