Whether you regularly dispose of concrete waste, or you work with aggregates in your construction or landscaping projects, you might be interested in exploring concrete recycling, and how it can support your business. Maybe you have questions, like:
- Is concrete recycling on the rise?
- What makes it better for the environment?
- Are recycled concrete products really proven to be an effective alternative to quarry aggregates?
- How can it save me money?
In this blog, we answer all these questions (and more!) with the latest facts and statistics on the concrete recycling industry. That way, you can make informed decisions (or make a case for recycled concrete) for your next project!
1. Concrete waste is an issue
In 2016-17, 4.4 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste was produced in Queensland – a significant increase on previous years.
Studies have also found that:
- Around the world, buildings account for 30% of raw materials, 42% of energy, 25% of water, and 12% of land used
- 8-10% of CO2 emissions worldwide come specifically from cement manufacturing processes, primarily due to the gas released when heating and crushing limestone and clays
It’s clear that waste production is an issue – both locally and worldwide, and concrete is a major contributor. So, it’s important to ensure that we maximise the value from any concrete that’s already been produced, and ensure that it stays out of landfill for as long as possible.
Sources: QLD Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy, Recycling & Waste in Queensland 2017 Report, Construction and Demolition Waste Guide & Toward Green Concrete for Better Sustainable Environment
2. Recycling concrete reduces environmental impacts
Data suggests that producing one tonne of recycled concrete aggregate minimises the impact on the environment by approximately 97%, compared to producing natural aggregates.
3. Concrete recycling saves money
One of the key motivators for businesses to reuse and recycle their concrete waste is the high cost of landfill. From July 1 2021, the Queensland government levy on waste going to landfill increased to $85 per tonne, with a view to increase this by $5 each year.
Because concrete is a heavy component of C&D waste, the cost to businesses can add up quickly.
Transporting your concrete waste to a dedicated concrete recycling facility like Moreton Bay Recycling means that your per tonne disposal fees are much lower. When we talked to local small businesses that recycle, they all cited saving money as a key reason for recycling their concrete. See more information on our fees here or take a look at our 2021 Quick Reference Guide.
4. Buying recycled concrete saves money
Producing aggregates from recycled concrete costs less than natural aggregates that are mined from virgin resources. Estimates suggest that the cost to produce one tonne of recycled concrete aggregate is 40% less than producing the natural equivalent.
These savings are passed on to businesses. Our research suggests an average of 22.28% saved across our range of recycled aggregates, compared to the equivalent quarry products.
Crushed concrete has also been shown to offer around 10-15% more volume per tonne than crushed quarry rock, so businesses can potentially get more material for their money by choosing recycled.
Sources: Comparative analysis on costs and benefits of producing natural and recycled concrete aggregates & Construction and Demolition Waste Status Report – Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities – Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management
5. Concrete is relatively easy to recycle
Compared to other types of waste, concrete is relatively easy to recycle and reuse – collect, crush, sort, repurpose. This ease of recycling is reflected in the data, showing that of the 52% of waste recycled in Australia (in 2006-07), 42% of it was from Construction and Demolition.
Concrete recycling is low hanging fruit compared to other resources in the waste stream. Therefore, businesses and governments have a responsibility to recycle as much of their concrete as possible.
6. Recycled concrete is a valuable resource
Concrete is too good to waste! Recycled concrete can be used in a range of landscaping and construction applications, including:
- Retaining wall fillings
- Under slabs
See more in our blog on 6 ways recycled concrete products are used in projects.
7. Recycled concrete is an effective alternative
For most projects, recycled concrete aggregates make a great alternative to quarry aggregates that’s more affordable and better for the environment.
Studies were done to understand the properties of recycled aggregate over a 6 month period. Results showed good durability and strength, compared to a virgin quarry mix, as long as it was packed with high enough density.
MBR’s products are screened and tested to ensure high quality so that you can be confident they’ll do the same job as quarry equivalent materials.
8. Concrete recycling is on the rise
The good news is that we’re doing a much better job of recycling – especially when it comes to construction and demolition waste. C&D recovery went up by 133% in 2016-17, compared to 2011-12, with concrete making up 66.8% of recovered construction and demolition materials.
The latest data from 2018-19 shows that Queensland’s total recovery rate went up from 45.4% (in 2017-18) to 48.7%. In the same period, local governments diverted 2.8 million tonnes of waste from landfill.
During this time, the volume of recovered construction and demolition waste went up by 13%, including 1.92 million tonnes of concrete. 157,599 tonnes of concrete was recovered by South East Queensland local governments alone.
This is all in line with various government targets, including Queensland’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, which sets out waste recovery goals to grow the circular economy. Specific targets include:
- 75% of construction and demolition waste generated diverted from landfill by 2025
- 85% of construction and demolition waste generated diverted from landfill by 2030 (and beyond)
- 80% or more of construction and demolition waste recycled by 2030 (and beyond)
It’s clear that concrete recycling is on the rise – and that trend isn’t likely to slow down any time soon.
9. Concrete recycling creates jobs
As of 2014-15, sales of recovered materials in Australia generated $2.9 billion value and waste-related activities added $6.9 billion to the economy, per year.
Concrete recycling is great for the local economy – and it creates jobs. In fact, 9.2 jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that gets recycled.
An estimated 50,000 people are directly employed in waste-related roles (including concrete recycling and materials recovery) in Australia. Here at Moreton Bay Recycling, we love that our growth means we get to employ more local people and grow our local economy!
Source: National Waste Policy 2018
10. Growing regions need more recycling and waste management solutions
Here in Moreton Bay, our region is predicted to grow by 40% over a 20-year period. That translates to a local population of 622,131 people by 2036, up from 425,500 in 2015. This presents some waste management challenges, with the Moreton Bay Region already generating 325,000 tonnes of waste in 2015.
Local businesses, councils, tradespeople, and residents all have an important role to play in ensuring our region stays beautiful as we continue to grow. That means choosing recycled alternatives wherever possible, supporting businesses that recycle, and making sure our waste ends up in the best possible place – where it’ll be reused or recycled, and not sent to landfill.
Recycled concrete is the way to go and that’s a fact!
The numbers tell a clear story: that recycled concrete is better for the environment, better for your wallet, and a viable alternative to quarry products. Become part of the shift towards more sustainable landscaping, construction, and demolition, and make the switch today!
Based in North Brisbane (or thereabouts) and want to recycle concrete with us, or pick up some recycled concrete products? Drop into our Narangba recycling facility, or give us a call on (07) 3293 4949.
See you soon,
– Hilary Dold, General Manager