Cement-Related Trends in the United States and Oregon
Cement is produced in more countries around the world than many other commodities because it uses raw materials that are readily available and has low production costs, according to Global Cement. China and India are the largest cement producers on the planet. The U.S. is also a leading producer. According to the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. saw an uptick in cement production in 2016 with the country making 82.9 million tons of Portland cement and 2.5 million tons of masonry cement. While the growth did not reach the record levels seen in 2005 (99million tons), cement sales significantly increased during the year. The most popular product was ready-mix concrete, which accounted for roughly 70 percent of sales. The purchasing of concrete products made up about 10 percent of sales, followed by contractor purchases at 9 percent.
While Oregon did not top the list of the leading cement-producing states, it is home to one Portland cement-producing plant, four distribution terminals and silos, 94 ready-mix concrete plants, 27 additional plants and terminals, and two cement company headquarters or sales offices. Cement and cement-related operations bring more than 1,800 jobs to the state—not including jobs in the Oregon demolition services or construction industry—and contribute more than $39 million in state tax revenue. The state’s clinker capacity tops out at 1 million metric tons, nearly matching cement consumption rates, which were 0.8 million metric tons in 2016.
The Portland Cement Association’s outlook regarding the future of cement consumption is good news for all who work directly and indirectly with the building material. The association credits tax reform for the boost, as increased consumer spending and the confidence that comes with it will affect housing and public construction markets.
How Cement Consumption Affects Oregon Demolition Contractors
Almost anything that helps the construction industry is positive for an Oregon demolition contractor. New construction projects and infrastructure improvements often involve the expertise of demolition contractors, which have a key role in salvaging and recycling building materials to prepare sites for upcoming projects. Because of the benefits that concrete offers, it’s an ideal building material even after the salvaging process. Such benefits include:
- Wind resistance
- Erosion control
- Resistance to humidity and wind-driven rain
- Withstands warm temperatures
- Resistance to ultraviolet light, such as sunlight
- Withstands freezing and thawing cycles
- Natural reflectivity
- Preventing urban heat island effect
- Filtering rainwater for local watersheds
- Recyclability, even recycled low-grade concrete has several uses
Concrete Salvaging to Pad the Bottom Line
While used interchangeably, cement and concrete are different materials. Cement is made by heating iron, silica, alumina, lime and other material at a high temperature until the components form clinker, a marble-like ball. Manufacturers grind clinker with limestone gypsum to make concrete.
In essence, concrete is a mixture of aggregates—such as gravel, sand or crushed stone—and paste. Manufacturers use water and cement to make the paste.
During the first stages of a demolition project, specialists determine what materials in a building are suited for recycling and resale. A prime material is concrete. When crushed, a client can use the material on-site or at a different location, or transport the material to a recycling center for processing.
The recycling process reduces dependence on raw materials and minimizes a project’s carbon footprint, especially considering that recycling one ton of materials can save almost 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 1,300 gallons of water. Furthermore, recycled concrete may perform better than virgin aggregate because it has better compaction properties, is simpler to finish and requires less cement, making it ideal for road bases and sub-bases.
Other uses for crushed concrete include:
- Soil stabilization
- Foundation for roadway pavement
- Ready-mix products, such as asphalt
- Pipe bedding
- Landscaping applications, such as building retaining walls, enhancing landscaping features or for use as mulch
Salvaging, crushing, sorting, and reusing or reselling concrete usually costs up to 60 percent less than sending the material to landfills. Incidentally, demolition clients often opt to sell or reuse the material on-site to offset project costs. Those who are green minded may earn LEED credits for recycling concrete on-site or obtaining the material from a local source.
The crushing process involves removing concrete from the building using specialized equipment, such as high-reach excavators with special attachments. Workers then remove extraneous materials, including plastic, wood and glass. To save time, demolition contractors use powerful magnets that make it simple to remove scrap metal that a client may sell. Workers then feed large pieces of concrete into crushers that grind them into smaller parts. They then separate the pieces by size and remove pieces of scrap metal that weren’t extracted prior to the crushing process.
As construction opportunities grow, the demand for cement will continue to rise globally and in Oregon. Elder Demolition will help meet local demands with its asset recovery services that make it simple to save money, help the planet and support the economy during any demolition project. Learn more and request an estimate by contacting specialist at Elder today.