How Concrete and Asphalt Recycling Work Today

14 April 2020

Concrete and asphalt recycling have evolved over the years. Traditionally, materials like asphalt and concrete were relegated to landfills upon removal. After being removed from parking lots or construction sites, they’d simply be transported to the nearest landfill for disposal. The approach, while simple, still resulted in freight costs, and, obviously, in landfill sites that were filled more quickly. Recycling changed that by enabling materials to be reused. However, in the early days of recycling, reuse was almost solely as fill product, due to issues of quality and gradation irregularity. Today, however, recycled concrete and asphalt can be crushed into forms that are usable in a breadth of industry applications.

Basics of Concrete and Asphalt Recycling

Concrete recycling entails breaking, removing, and crushing concrete into a material of a specified size and quality—not unlike the processes of crushing virgin materials. Demolished sidewalks, building columns, or foundations are broken up and compiled. The concrete can either be hauled to a recycling site for crushing or (often more cost-effectively) crushed on-site using a portable crushing rig.

Recycled asphalt product is now routinely accepted in asphalt paving mixtures as an aggregate substitute and as a portion of the binder in nearly all 50 states. Recently developed technology has even made it possible to recycle 90 to 100 percent recycled asphalt product in hot mix.  The process is, again, similar to traditional crushing processes: asphalt is broken, removed from parking lots and roads, and then hauled to locations where it’s chipped and stockpiled. In its crushed form, it’s often used as a chalk mix to replace what’s been removed.

Limitations of Concrete and Asphalt Recycling

While recycling has improved over the past few decades in terms of material functionality, there remain a few limitations. First, while the gradation control of recycled materials compares favorably to the gradation quality of virgin materials, abrasion does tend to be different. Additionally, there have been prior instances of contaminants found in recycled materials—although today, with adherence to proper processes and the use of improved technologies, this is very unlikely.

Benefits of Concrete and Asphalt Recycling

The substantial benefits of recycling offset its limitations, though. There are two main reasons to recycle concrete and asphalt. The first is efficiency—often, the cost to recycle material is less than the cost of disposing of material in a landfill. That, coupled with the cost savings on the use of recycled material, makes recycling an economically appealing option.

Secondly, recycling is more environmentally friendly. Not only does recycling reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfills, but it can also reduce transportation mileage, especially if crushing is done on-site via a portable crusher.

Consult EcoCrush with your concrete and asphalt recycling. We produce top-quality products from recycled crushed rock for use in the construction and building industries. No load is too small or too large for us to handle.