Recycling concrete provides sustainability in several different ways. The simple act of recycling the concrete reduces the amount of material that must be land filled. In Ontario municipalities are responsible for the care and maintenance of the roads. When those roads are replaced or repaired, large amounts of aggregate material must be dealt with.
More contractors than ever before are turning towards a sustainable future and recycling more material than ever before. Although, while some municipalities are doing better than in the past, some are still lagging behind.
Some may say it may be a fear of trying something new, but studies from the Toronto and Area Road Builders Association (TARBA) have shown that there currently isn't a huge commitment to recycling aggregate, that some are even resisting the change. In the past, there may have been some issues with the quality of recycled aggregate. But today, the product has been engineered and tested properly and has gone through modern methods of quality control.
Different regions allow for more or less use of recycled aggregate. In areas where the rates are low, it means that tracking new aggregate over large distances burns fuel, green house gasses and the used aggregate ends up in the waste system.
The regions need to be doing a much better job of recycling, some municipalities such as Mississauga only allow recycled aggregate for access roads, i.e bicycle paths. Toronto did score the highest (in the survey contacted by TARBA) for allowing recycled materials for use in almost everything (some uses are still restricted). Instead of disposing and stockpiling used aggregate, the TARBA is encouraging municipalities to find ways of using more of the recycled aggregate in their construction.
Recycled aggregate means a more sustainable infrastructure overall. Currently, only 7% of aggregate is used in Ontario. The regions can be doing a better job of reducing the need for "virgin aggregates". This in turn will reduce the environmental impact of the aggregate extraction process.
Lee Toop, Associate Editor: Heavy Equipment Guide. February, 2019 Issue