The Concrete Recycling Process During Industrial Demolition

Concrete CrushingModern residential and industrial demolition isn’t a pell-mell, chaotic affair. Done well, it’s a carefully orchestrated plan for salvaging and reusing as much as possible from the old building. Rather than simple dump these old building materials into landfills, cutting-edge demolition contractors recycle them. From fixtures to equipment to piping, many different parts of a building may be recycled. Concrete is one of the most common materials in industrial demolition. Colorado, California, and Arizona contractors (like those everywhere) typically prefer that recycled crushed concrete be left on site. No need to truck in gravel when recycled concrete is available. Crushed concrete can be used for landscaping, pipe filling, foundations, leveling, structural fill, and even as a road base.

The first step in recycling concrete is removing it from the building itself. High-reach excavators with hammers, shears, and other attachments are used to take down higher stories. Once the concrete has been removed, it is separated into a discrete pile on site. An enormous concrete pile is a sign of residential or industrial demolition, Arizona to Arkansas. The chunks in the pile are typically 30 inches to four feet in diameter. They must be fairly free of other materials such as wood or glass.

At this point, some demolition contractors ship the concrete to a recycling plant. Because we maintain a 428 Trakpactor mobile concrete crusher, we recycle concrete on site. This saves on transportation cost and fuel, as well as CO2 emissions.

Once concrete is crushed down to a usable size, it can be mixed with water, sand, Portland cement, and virgin aggregate to make new concrete. Contractors often prefer recycled concrete over concrete made from virgin materials, as recycled concrete is stronger and lighter.Once the concrete is in place and ready to recycle, it is loaded by excavator into an initial crusher. The interlocking teeth of the crusher break the concrete into smaller bits. The chunks are then sorted by size. Larger chunks are re-crushed and smaller sent on to the next step, removal of metal via a strong electromagnet.

Demolition and salvage operations have an environmental responsibility to send as little as possible to nearby landfills. Demolition project managers tend to favor salvaging efforts as well, as they offset demolition costs and boost the bottom line. Concrete is an eminently recyclable material that can be recycled on-site, using the process described above, as long as the demolition contractor has the right equipment and know-how.

[photo by: Reuse Warehouse on Flickr, via CC License]

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