In its report “Recycling Concrete,” the Cement Sustainability Initiative argues that the recycling of concrete can reduce natural resource exploitation and waste going to landfill. The report asks for an ultimate goal of “zero landfill” of concrete.
The recovery of concrete falls between standard definitions of reuse and recycling: concrete is broken down into aggregates (granular material), generally to be used in road works, but also as aggregates in new concrete. Recovering concrete has two main advantages: it reduces the use of new virgin aggregate and the associated environmental costs of exploitation and transportation, and it reduces landfill of valuable materials.
While in some countries near full recovery of concrete is achieved, in most parts of the world the potential to recover concrete is overlooked and it ends up as unnecessary waste in landfill. This is generally the result of low public concern, as the waste poses relatively low hazard risks compared to other materials.
The CSI recommends that governments and key stakeholders publicize data on construction and demolition waste and develop reliable and consistent statistics; that they develop economic incentives and legislation to allow infrastructure that promotes concrete recycling (particularly green building schemes); and that they set targets for the use of recycled concrete in both road construction and building industries.