Our recycling program extends across all lines of our business, from water usage, production and business waste, fuels, fleet vehicles, and postconsumer waste in offices. Every operating company at Summit Materials strives to maximize the use of recycled materials whenever possible to reduce costs and resources. This is an integral part of our commitment to positively impact our environment and reduce waste in our operations. We routinely monitor and evaluate the waste that we generate, and continue to look for new methods to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our operations. The details below provide details about how our recycling program effects each of our lines of business, and check out the sustainability report for annual metrics on recycling efforts.
Alternate Fuel Usage in Cement Manufacturing:
Green America Recycling, a subsidiary of Continental Cement Company, is dedicated to sourcing and reusing alternative and hazardous waste as a fuel source in our cement kilns. This alternative fuel usage offsets our total energy pull by an average of 35% annually. This program reduces our non-renewable energy use, and recycles fuels that are waste products from other industries.
Water Usage and Recycling:
Summit Materials frequently recycles water in our aggregates and ready-mix businesses, with a focus on geographic regions with water scarcity and water cost concerns. Our heaviest water users are aggregate plants, which use water for dust suppression, and ready-mix concrete, which uses water to activate cement in the product and to wash out trucks after deliveries. Summit Materials’ water recycling efforts aims to keep water in closed loop systems so that the water can be repeatedly used without regularly pulling from and adding to municipal, or natural water systems.
Recycling concrete is another meaningful way for Summit Materials’ aggregates and ready-mix businesses to recycle. We do this by re-crushing waste concrete and by putting returned product to good use. Concrete roads or lots that need to be resurfaced are excavated and the material can then be re-crushed and used as road base in place of virgin material. Other methods include creating blocks with concrete returns and/or washing concrete to extract valuable aggregate material.
Asphalt is typically composed of a mixture of 5% asphalt binder (also known as asphalt cement), and 95% aggregate (stone, sand, and gravel). Asphalt pavement can be safely and efficiently reused many times over through the process of recycling. As roadways and infrastructure degrade, the asphalt layer can be milled off the road, ground up and used again as a fine aggregate, which then becomes a percentage of the binder in a new asphalt mix for a new project or to repave the original road.
The use of Recycled Asphalt Pavement (RAP) and Recycled Asphalt Shingles (RAS) is limited only by the specifications of the project engineers and application. Our operating companies use RAP and RAS whenever possible to limit the amount of binder that must be refined and purchased and extend the lifecycle of the product. On an annual basis, we reuse hundreds of thousands of tons of asphalt.