The following article was written for Andersal by the team of waste removal specialists at Sydney’s Bingo Group.
Whether you’re reading this on your way to work, while at the office, or during the commute between meetings, pause to take a look at your surroundings. What do you see? In today’s fast-growing, material intensive economy, you start to realise that concrete is everywhere; and is integral to the foundation of our communities.
Around 8 billion cubic meters of concrete are produced by the world each year, making concrete the second most widely-used material after water. It makes its way into the structures we build, the houses we live in and the sidewalks that line our streets. For the building and construction industry in particular, concrete is still the most widely used material; offering a versatile, cost-effective solution to building durable structural foundations. It’s of little surprise, then, to discover that with all this concrete production comes a comparable incidence of concrete waste.
Concrete recycling is a hot topic when it comes to disposing of concrete structures. From construction, building renovation, and concrete repair and external waterproofing after the fact, there are many players in the building sector who handle concrete and concrete waste. In the past, such companies would have followed trend in viewing concrete as a non-recyclable product; with concrete debris making their way to landfill almost as quickly as it was used to erect building structures. But in today’s economy, concrete recycling is increasing due to improved environmental awareness, governmental pressure and the (very real) benefits to business and economies.
So where can your business start in joining the revolution to reuse and recycle concrete?
Reality check: Sydney’s less-than-green waste management.
Sydney businesses are great when it comes to waste generation. The building and commercial sectors are the two largest contributors to Australia’s growing waste, producing over 19.0 million tonnes of construction waste in 2011 alone. Couple this figure with the 8.5 million tonnes of construction waste sent to landfill, and you start to get a picture of Australia’s current waste situation.
For the building and construction industry, concrete leads the pack in commercial waste materials sent to landfill. In its simplest form, concrete consists of cement (the binder), aggregates (ranging in coarseness) and water. Of these materials, cement and the cement industry in general is the one to watch out for; representing the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide and harmful greenhouse gases after the transportation and energy sectors.
Despite this figure, if you’re like many Australian businesses out there, you might not consider a tailored waste management plan to be relevant to your business. It’s too costly, you’ll say; or you don’t feel your business produces enough regular waste to warrant ongoing waste management. But here’s something that might bring the point home; it’s actually costing your business more to send waste to landfill. NSW now paves the way for other states increasing the levy on waste sent to the grave, with landfill prices costing over $300 per tonne in 2012.
While in the past landfill was a common choice for housing concrete waste, to keep your costs down in today’s economy, the adverse is now true. By implementing an effective waste management plan, and placing value on materials recycling, we guarantee you’ll be saving your business and the environment for years to come.
The concrete recycling process.
Concrete recycling for use on roads and pavement is a relatively simple process, involving the breakdown, removal and crushing of concrete from an existing concrete source into a material with a specified size and quality.
More often than not, recycling concrete from building and construction sites involves collection of concrete aggregate for crushing. The aggregate itself is similar to rubble, containing other materials typically found at building sites, such as asphalt, bricks, dirt and rocks.
To collect and crush concrete aggregate, the concrete must be uncontaminated. What this means is that it’s free of garbage, timber, paper and other materials. In this uncontaminated form, the concrete can be melted down for recycling and reuse in other forms.
Through the introduction of on-site processing equipment, concrete can now be crushed at a rate of up to 600 tonnes per hour. Concrete recycling therefore allows some of the old material to be reused, while lowering the need to buy new raw material inputs.
And with all that recycling going on, reused concrete can help the construction industry avoid the high cost of concrete disposal, in addition to Sydney’s rising levy on landfill dumps.
What is recycled concrete used for?
Recycled concrete is slowly making it way into the structural fabric of Australian communities as a versatile material with a range of uses.
Crushed concrete, brick and asphalt blends are being used in local road and pedestrian pavements, earthworks, and as backfill for drainage lines and structures. For the commercial and building sectors; concrete aggregate can be used on building slabs and foundations, sidewalks and curbs, residential streets, commercial buildings, storm drains and in concrete paving. Recycled concrete can also be used for soil stabilization, pipe bedding and landscape materials such as rock walls, retaining walls and water features.
Not only does Recycled concrete aggregate meet comparable virgin material standards, but stands up better as a concrete asphalt product than comparable raw aggregates. Did we mention it does this at a lower cost to your business?
Demand is Growing for Recycled Concrete.
When you break down statistics on annual C&D waste production and demand in Australia, you notice that alongside waste being sent to landfill, demand for recycled construction and demolition waste is equally on the incline.
While being greener is a goal all Aussie businesses should strive for, the figures show that “green credentials” are secondary in the decision-making process for consumers. What is driving Australian businesses product demand – and there’s little surprise here – is in fact affordability and availability.
As a result, concrete recycling has been pushed on the agenda in recent times as the industry and government look for sustainable business practices that are not only kinder on the environment, but softer on your business’ bank balance, too. By managing your site’s waste sustainably, and contributing to the trend towards concrete recycling, you’ll join an influx of businesses now cutting costs for the whole community.
Why your business should care about greener practices.
With 53% on average of Australian business waste being sent to landfill, there’s room for improvement yet. But if not everyone is recycling to their full capacity, what’s to say your business should up and start now?
Sustainable waste management practices are not only legally required of businesses out there today, but are encouraged by government and industry for the inherent benefits that recycling offers your business and the environment.
Whether you’re erecting buildings, repairing external facades, or managing concrete restoration at your site, making the move to greener material inputs offers little disincentive. By leading the pack in concrete recycling, Australia’s building industries would be saving energy from raw materials processing; saving the environment from lessening the carbon footprint from the concrete industry; while ensuring millions of tonnes of broken concrete are kept out of landfill.
How do you get started?
Ensuring your construction or demolition site is maximising its recycling efforts is possible with a tailored waste management plan. While the process of recycling can be easily thrown in the “too-hard” basket for building and construction companies, with a tailored waste plan, your waste management company will provide you with commercial bins to dispose of your construction waste the sustainable way. You throw your concrete waste in the bin; and they handle the rest.
From the construction phase, through to site and domestic clean-ups, Bingo Group offers one of Sydney’s best tailored waste management services. Through skip bin waste management, Bingo can manage the effective and sustainable transport and disposal of your site’s concrete waste and concrete aggregate for effective removal, transport, and recycling at one of our processing sites across Sydney.