March 14, 2016

Concrete, asphalt recycling a ‘win-win’ for SIU

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has initiated a program to recycle campus concrete and asphalt, saving thousands of dollars and significantly reducing landfill waste. 

Concrete and asphalt are commonly used building materials. Over the last 1-1½ years, when sidewalks, roadways or buildings have been demolished, those materials were stockpiled at a university-owned site near campus, according to Dave Tippy, superintendent of grounds. Beginning last fall, the materials were then crushed and ground into an aggregate material and screened to a consistent size for future use. 

Concrete became gravel and asphalt was turned into bituminous asphalt material. These products can now be used in future campus construction projects such as for a base for a new concrete pour or to help maintain campus roads or parking lots. During the processing, about 99 percent of the metal within those materials, primarily rebar and wire mesh, was also removed and recycled. In the first processing, which wrapped up in December, SIU recycled about 3,188 tons of concrete, 500 tons of asphalt and about seven tons of metal, according to Tippy. 

By recycling, SIU realizes a cost savings of 30 percent to 40 percent, Tippy said, due to the elimination of the cost formerly paid to dump the waste materials and the cost of purchasing the new base materials when needed. On average, that’s a savings of approximately $30,000-$40,000 annually, he said. Moreover, SIU is reducing its environmental impact. 

“It’s a win-win for the university,” Tippy said. “We are enhancing SIU’s commitment to green initiatives by recycling and reusing materials. We’re keeping these products out of the landfills, saving on hauling and landfill costs and not using landfill space while also reducing the expense of purchasing products we use.” 

Plans call for continuing the program in the future, stockpiling the materials and having them processed every year or two, Tippy said.