Sustainable concrete recycling: How we minimise our environmental impacts

Digger and front wheel loader shown working at night to move concrete waste, ready for recycling.

Here at Moreton Bay Recycling, we’re proud to make a positive impact on the environment by reusing and recycling concrete waste. All while providing our customers with affordable, sustainable concrete alternatives to quarry products.

But there are also a number of other ways we ensure our business has a positive impact on the environment, particularly when it comes to dust.

As part of our concrete recycling process, we naturally produce dust as a by-product of crushing up concrete into smaller aggregates, and we also produce and sell crusher dust, which our customers often use under slabs. Not to mention all the trucks that drive through our yard, unload waste materials, or load up fresh product… there’s bound to be a bit of dust kicked up.

It’s important for us to keep our dust down as much as possible for health and safety reasons – we also need to adhere to Queensland’s standards and codes of practice for dust. Plus, we like to be considerate of our neighbouring businesses who operate in the same environment. That said, we chose to set up our operations in a high-impact industrial environment which caters to a lot of like minded businesses – so while we try to keep it minimal, we’re all used to a bit of dust around here!

We know that concrete’s environmental impacts are important to our customers, too. For many of our customers, it’s a big part of why they choose to buy from us, rather than quarries. So, let’s take a look at 6 behind-the-scenes details that go into helping our operations adhere to standards and minimise environmental impacts.

1. Night crushing

Moreton Bay Recycling’s crusher machine operating at night time to reduce dust and environmental impact.

One of the biggest changes we’ve made recently is to our crushing schedule. We’ve started doing our concrete crushing at night to help reduce the impact of dust levels during the day (when most of our neighbouring businesses and customers are around). Night crushing also reduces the amount of dust generated from our processes overall, because night air is generally more humid, with less wind.

Our night shift goes from 5:30 pm to 2 am, with crushing starting from 6 pm five nights a week, but we’re still trialling the new schedule and this is dependent on our stockpile levels.

A nice side-effect of night crushing is that we’ve been able to double our production, which has allowed us to manage our raw stockpile more effectively. We’ve also been more productive during the day because instead of crushing, we’ve been able to focus on serving our customers – receiving waste, loading up trucks, and delivering product.

2. Tree planting

Moreton Bay Recycling’s yard shown with three trucks and a boundary lined with trees.

One thing we’ve done to minimise our environmental impact is plant a row of trees along the southern boundary. This helps to create a windblock so that less dust is picked up on windy days.

But trees have also been proven to reduce the amount of dust and other pollutants in the air – even collecting the dust on their leaves. In one study, houses behind a tree line were found to have about 50% less dust on TVs and computer monitors inside. We haven’t done any fancy studies on how trees are impacting the dust in our yard or surrounding areas, but the evidence is quite solid and the trees make the yard look nicer, too!

3. Dust covers

The end of the screener is shown with a dust cover to control and limit the movement of dust.

Some areas of our yard produce more dust than others. For example, our crusher machine breaks up the concrete and transports it along a conveyor belt, and this movement can shake up a lot of dust. To help contain and control the dust, we’ve added dust covers to our conveyor belts and crusher hoppers.

4. Wetting down

MBR’s water truck is shown spraying water to wet down the yard.

Another way we reduce the amount of dust in the air is by wetting down our yard. We have a water truck that sprays water on our roads, yard, and products. We’ve also installed 150m of sprinkler systems along our boundary to help get any extra dust out of the air before it blows out of the yard.

5. Sweeper machine

To help reduce the dust in our car park area, we’ve acquired a Sweeper machine with a built-in air filtration system. This is important because it means we don’t just kick up the dust in our car park every time we sweep – we actually remove the dust particles from the air.

6. Concrete pump washout

MBR’s concrete pump washout station is shown with two mixer trucks.

Our concrete pump washout station also plays an important role by ensuring any remaining concrete waste or slurry is properly collected and disposed of, rather than contaminating the land or waterways. Our washout facility is set up so that any runoff won’t reach drainpipes or groundwater, and all water and concrete collected in our washout is recycled – it’s a zero-waste process!

How do you minimise your environmental impacts?

We’ve given you the rundown on some of the steps we’ve taken to minimise our environmental impacts and provide sustainable concrete products. Now we’d love to hear from our customers and readers: what are you doing or what else do you think we can do? Send us an email or leave us a comment on Facebook. Maybe we can borrow an idea or two!

And of course, if you’re looking to reduce your impact on the environment, we offer some very sustainable concrete alternatives. Come recycle your concrete waste with us and try our recycled concrete aggregates and other products – it’s better for the environment, and much more affordable, too.

Pop in and see us at 171-177 Potassium Street, Narangba (north of Brisbane, just off the Bruce Highway) or give us a call on (07) 3293 4949 if you’ve got any questions.

Hilary Dold, General Manager