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The Concrete Recycling Process

 by General Kinematics,

Concrete Recycling 101

Did you know that concrete is the most widely used material in the world? Although plastic and steel are more commonly recognized as essential materials, concrete is used in virtually every construction project worldwide, even more than steel. Despite existing as far back as 6500 BC, concrete recycling began only about a century ago, in the 1940s. Unsurprisingly, the massive demand for concrete made concrete recycling grow into the essential part of the C&D recycling business it is today.

What is Recycled Concrete Used for?

Just like “fresh” concrete, recycled concrete is used in a variety of construction and building applications. Despite its reputation for being used as pavement, recycled concrete can be used in a wide variety of applications, including:

  • Buildings are often made of concrete slabs, bricks, etc.
  • Asphalt pavement as a foundation or the main body.
  • Concrete aggregate is made from the finer aggregates from recycled concrete and can be used like any other aggregate material.
  • Landscaping for raised bed gardens, walkways, and décor.
  • Concrete runoff is used to control the flow of water in rainy areas prone to floods.
  • And more!

How is Concrete Recycled?A diagram of the concrete recycling process

Typically, a C&D Recycling System handles the breakdown of concrete. These special recycling systems handle concrete over several different steps.


Following teardown or deconstruction, concrete is taken to a special C&D recycling facility to be processed for reuse.

Preliminary Crushing

If the concrete chunks are large enough or not pre-crushed on-site, the concrete demolition waste is filled into a hopper and crusher, which breaks it down into easier to sort pieces.


The remaining concrete is fed through a machine like General Kinematics’ DE-STONER® Air Classifier, to remove any light debris, such as wood. The material is often decontaminated during this stage. What you’re left with is high-quality concrete.


The concrete is sent through another screen like the GK FINGER-SCREEN™ 2.0 to separate the large and small aggregates. Smaller aggregates are used for applications such as gravel, and the larger ones are re-used as recycled concrete.

Re-Use & Demolition

The recycled concrete is re-used for construction. Once the construct is torn down, the cycle begins again.

Benefits of Using Recycled Concrete


  • Recycled concrete can be sold by recycling facilities once it is properly separated and decontaminated for a profit.
  • Recycled aggregates are cheaper than ‘fresh’ aggregates.
  • Recycling facilities, including concrete recycling plants, sometimes qualify for tax benefits.
  • Tipping fees are typically collected when you take items to a disposal center and are based on weight and/or volume. So, when you choose to recycle your concrete, you’ll avoid incurring additional tipping fees when disposing of your materials at a landfill or waste treatment facility.
  • Recycling contributes to a stronger circular economy.


  • Recycling C&D materials produces fewer emissions than gathering new ones.
  • It takes less energy and overall resources to recycle concrete.
  • Less space is being taken up in landfills. Concrete can last for decades before beginning to degrade.

Disadvantages of Recycled Concrete


  • Recycled concrete must be inspected for quality control issues and contamination before being reused.
  • Occasionally recycled concrete will be less durable than when made with new materials. This can be avoided by following proper procedures when recycling.
  • Durability issues can also be circumvented by using recycled concrete as an asphalt base or for runoffs.
  • A majority of the time, recycled concrete aggregate is just as durable and safe for use as natural aggregates.

General Kinematics Is Devoted to Improving the Recycling Process

Each and every new innovation in the recycling industry is a step towards making our planet more sustainable. General Kinematics is dedicated to being a part of that innovation. With every piece of equipment that leaves the doors of GK, we look to increase the amount of recycled materials to create a better situation for our customers and the world. Utilizing GK’s DE-STONER® Air Classifier and other vibratory equipment to assist with your concrete clean-up provides a robust and durable unit that will improve the quality of clean concrete in your system and increase your ROI.

Contact us today and let one of our skilled engineers improve the future of your recycling process.

General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, was established to market, design, and custom fabricate innovative vibratory equipment for the foundry, recycling, mining, and processing industries. Today the company continues as one of the world’s largest suppliers of vibratory processing equipment and has evolved into an industry-leading EPC firm. Headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL, General Kinematics has seven global locations providing engineering and support to a world-wide customer base. GK is a third generation, family-owned company and is ISO 9001 certified.