Working with concrete produces unique waste. Numerous industries deal with concrete, especially the construction industry. Whether they are doing a demolition, remodeling, or building from the ground up, there are countless waste products they need to haul off the construction site. Even after considering the spare wood, tiling, and drywall that needs to be hauled away, concrete waste disposal is still one of the most difficult wastes to take care of. Still, concrete waste disposal is important, and recycling it is beneficial for the planet.
Concrete waste isn’t simply hauled away to a landfill or dumped in a river (it’s illegal to dump concrete wastewater). Concrete can be used again depending on its size. Small pieces can be used to build roads, while crushed concrete can be used as dry aggregate for new concrete. Unwanted concrete from a project can be ground down and re-purposed as crushed stone. Recycling concrete cuts down on environmental costs, saves our natural resources, and eliminates extra materials from entering our landfills.
But what happens to concrete wastewater? That’s another problem entirely. There are regulations on the federal, state, and local level on what type of water can be discharged into existing bodies of water. Because there are different chemicals in concrete wastewater, the water is caustic and has a high pH level. Simply dumping it into a river, lake, or the ocean can kill the fish and disrupt the fragile ecosystem. This means the water must be treated. Many industries invest in a filter press for dewatering, which allows them to separate water and solids. Slurry cakes are formed from the suspended solids. The remaining wastewater can be recycled and reused after the pH is balanced.
When dealing with concrete wastes, whether it is slurry or unused concrete, it’s important to remember that you need to responsibly clean up your mess. Taking care of the environment is the responsible thing to do.