Concrete recycling tips: how to find and dispose of clean concrete waste

Truck dumping concrete waste at Moreton Bay Recycling facility in north Brisbane

If you’ve got concrete waste sitting around your yard, construction site, or worksite, you might be wondering what you can do with it. Do you have to take it all to the local dump or can any of it be recycled?

The answer depends on whether you’ve got clean concrete waste or not. 

So, let’s clear this up with some FAQs…

What is clean concrete?

Clean concrete waste includes any leftover concrete slurry, concrete blocks, or other concrete waste that isn’t contaminated with other materials.

Here at Moreton Bay Recycling, we also accept all reinforced concrete (with steel through it) as clean concrete.

That’s right – it has nothing to do with detergent or soapy water!

What can contaminate concrete?

Worksite, cranes, and building under construction with steel frame

Contaminated concrete usually contains one or more materials from the worksite that have made their way into the stockpile, excavator, or truck. However, some materials (like plastic) may have been part of the construction.

Here at Moreton Bay Recycling, we’re usually unable to accept dirty concrete that’s contaminated with:

  • Large amounts of plastic – This is common in concrete slabs, as plastic is used underneath them to stop the concrete from leaching into the ground, and to minimise cracking from moisture.
  • Large amounts of dirt – While a small amount of dirt is manageable (like dirt that’s stuck to the bottom of a slab where plastic wasn’t used), we can’t accept concrete that has lots of dirt through it. Often when a site is demolished, the concrete gets contaminated with dirt when the excavators dig into the ground and pick up and load the concrete into trucks.
  • Timber, trees, and grass – Once again, if excavators dig into the ground and pick up these materials with the concrete, it contaminates the load. Or if concrete from the demolition site has been stored in a pile that’s contaminated with green waste, it’s classified as dirty.
  • Rubbish – All job sites have rubbish which should go in the hired bins, but sometimes this finds its way into the concrete bin or concrete pile. We don’t accept concrete that has rubbish through it.

Why sorting clean from contaminated waste matters

When disposing of concrete waste at a recycling facility, it’s important that you only drop off clean concrete. That’s because the machines used to process your concrete waste aren’t usually designed to handle other materials. They can break the machines and/or ruin the quality of the aggregates produced.

We have machinery onsite to process steel and concrete. But any other waste products need to be sorted and processed manually, which means we either turn away dirty concrete or charge a sorting fee if it’s something we have the capacity to manage.

How do you sort concrete from other waste?

You might need to sort through some rubble to figure out what waste you can take to a concrete recycling facility, and what needs to go to general waste.

This could be a relatively simple process. If you’ve got piles of concrete on the ground that are otherwise uncontaminated, they should be good to go. An experienced operator can load your concrete into trucks with minimal dirt, then cart it to a recycling facility like ours.

However, sorting plastic, green waste, and rubbish from concrete is usually a more manual process. Depending on how much concrete you’ve got and how intermingled it is with other materials, it might make sense to take it to general waste.

But if your different waste types are stockpiled on a job separately, it’s easy for your operator to load specific materials into each truck, including concrete. With good sorting and stockpiling practices in place already, you’ll find it’s relatively straightforward to get the right waste to the right facility for processing.

Plus, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to properly stockpile and sort your waste because it’s much cheaper (free with Moreton Bay Recycling) to recycle a load of clean concrete, compared to paying the waste levy for a load of concrete that’s headed for landfill. And of course, the more concrete you can recycle, the better it is for the environment.

How do you dispose of concrete waste?

If your waste is contaminated, you’ll need to take it to a general waste management facility, where they’ll put it in landfill and charge you a levy.

But if you’ve got clean concrete waste, the best way to dispose of it is to take it to a local recycling centre like ours.

You’ll turn up onsite, take your concrete to a designated dumping area, and then you can either pick up some recycled concrete aggregate products if you need them, or leave with an empty truck.

After that, it’s over to us. Our concrete recycling methods involve:

  • Using our pulveriser attachment to break up concrete pieces and remove steel, if needed
  • Pushing the waste up to the stockfeed using our loaders
  • Feeding the crush train, which crushes then screens the waste into different recycled concrete products based on size

You can read more about our concrete recycling process and equipment in our previous blog.

We can help dispose of your clean concrete waste

Based near Moreton Bay or North Brisbane and got some clean concrete waste? Why not pop into Moreton Bay Recycling? We’re in Narangba, just off the Bruce Highway. 

Whether you’ve got old concrete blocks, broken up concrete paths, concrete slurry, or another kind of clean concrete waste with or without steel, we can help. We also accept bricks, pavers, and rooftiles. Leave your waste with us for disposal, save on costs, and enjoy a faster and more convenient service.

Hope to see you soon,

– Hilary Dold, General Manager


P.S. Did you know it’s National Recycling Week from November 11-17? Now’s the perfect time to try recycling your concrete with us! Pop in for a visit or follow us on Facebook to learn more about Concrete Recycling here at MBR.