S. K. Singh, Scientist, Structural Engineering Division, Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee and P. C. Sharma, Head ( Retd.), Material Sciences, SERC,(G) and Editor New Building Materials & Construction World, New Delhi, Chairman, Indian Concrete Instt. UP Gaziabad Centre.

    One of the major challenges of our present society is the protection of environment. Some of the important elements in this respect are the reduction of the consumption of energy and natural raw materials and consumption of waste materials. These topics are getting considerable attention under sustainable development nowadays. The use of recycled aggregates from construction and demolition wastes is showing prospective application in construction as alternative to primary (natural) aggregates. It conserves natural resources and reduces the space required for the landfill disposal.

    This paper presents the experimental results of recycled coarse aggregate concrete and results are compared with the natural crushed aggregate concrete. The fine aggregate used in the concrete, i.e. recycled and conventional is 100 percent natural. The recycled aggregate are collected from four sources all demolished structures. For both types of concrete i.e. M-20 and M-25, w/c ratio, maximum size of aggregate and mix proportion are kept constant.

    The development of compressive strength of recycled aggregate concrete at the age of 1,3,7,14,28, 56, and 90 days; the development of tensile & flexural strength at the age of 1,3,7,14 and static modulus of elasticity at the age of 28 days are investigated. The results shows the compressive, tensile and flexural strengths of recycled aggregate are on average 85% to 95% of the natural aggregate concrete. The durability parameters are also investigated for recycled aggregate concrete and are found to be in good agreement with BIS specifications.


    Any construction activity requires several materials such as concrete, steel, brick, stone, glass, clay, mud, wood, and so on. However, the cement concrete remains the main construction material used in construction industries. For its suitability and adaptability with respect to the changing environment, the concrete must be such that it can conserve resources, protect the environment, economize and lead to proper utilization of energy. To achieve this, major emphasis must be laid on the use of wastes and byproducts in cement and concrete used for new constructions. The utilization of recycled aggregate is particularly very promising as 75 per cent of concrete is made of aggregates. In that case, the aggregates considered are slag, power plant wastes, recycled concrete, mining and quarrying wastes, waste glass, incinerator residue, red mud, burnt clay, sawdust, combustor ash and foundry sand. The enormous quantities of demolished concrete are available at various construction sites, which are now posing a serious problem of disposal in urban areas. This can easily be recycled as aggregate and used in concrete. Research & Development activities have been taken up all over the world for proving its feasibility, economic viability and cost effectiveness.

    An investigation conducted by the environmental resources ltd. (1979) for European Environmental commission (EEC) envisages that there will be enormous increase in the available quantities of construction and demolition concrete waste from 55 million tons in 1980 to 302 million tons by the year 2020 in the EEC member countries. As a whole, the safety and environment regulations are becoming stringent, demand for improvement in techniques & efficiency of the past demolition methods is getting pronounced. Special rules and regulations concerning the demolition have already been introduced in several countries like U.K., Holland and Japan.

    The main reasons for increase of volume of demolition concrete / masonry waste are as follows:-
    1. Many old buildings, concrete pavements, bridges and other structures have overcome their age and limit of use due to structural deterioration beyond repairs and need to be demolished;
    2. The structures, even adequate to use are under demolition because they are not serving the needs in present scenario;
    3. New construction for better economic growth;
    4. Structures are turned into debris resulting from natural disasters like earthquake, cyclone and floods etc.
    5. Creation of building waste resulting from manmade disaster/war.
    In study conducted by authors for RCC buildings, the approximate percentage of various construction materials in demolition waste is presented in Fig. 1. This may vary depending upon the type of structure.

    In many densely populated countries of Europe, where disposal of debris problem is becoming more and more difficult, the recycling of demolition waste has already been started. As per the survey conducted by European Demolition Association (EDA) in 1992, the several recycling plants were operational in European countries such as 60 in Belgium, 50 in France, 70 in the Netherlands, 120 in United Kingdom, 220 in Germany, 20 in Denmark and 43 in Italy. The recycling of construction & demolition waste becomes easy & economical, wherever combined project involving demolition and new construction are taken up simultaneously. The possible uses of construction and demolition wastes are given in Table 1.

    Recycling and Reuse of Construction & Demolition Wastes in Concrete

    The recycling and reuse of construction & demolition wastes seems feasible solution in rehabilitation and new constructions after the natural disaster or demolition of old structures. This becomes very important especially for those countries where national and local policies are stringent for disposal of construction and demolition wastes with guidance, penalties, levies etc. A typical lay out plan of recycling plant for construction waste has been shown in Figure. 2. The properties of recycled aggregate concrete obtained by various authors are given in Table2.

    International Status

    The extensive research on recycled concrete aggregate and recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) as started from year 1945 in various part of the world after second world war, but in a fragmented manner. First effort has been made by Nixon in 1977 who complied all the work on recycled aggregate carried out between 1945-1977 and prepared a state-of-the-art report on it for RILEM technical committee 37-DRC. Nixon concluded that a number of researchers have examined the basic properties of concrete in which the aggregate is the product of crushing another concrete, where other concentrated on old laboratory specimens. However, a comprehensive state-of-the-artdocument on the recycled aggregate concrete has been presented by Hansen & others in 1992 in which detailed analysis of data has been made, leading towards preparation of guidelines for production and utilization of recycled aggregate concrete.

    It has been estimated that approximately 180 million tones of construction & demolition waste are produced each year in European Union. In general, in EU, 500 Kg of construction rubble and demolition waste correspond annually to each citizen. Indicatively 10% of used aggregates in UK are RCA, whereas 78,000 tons of RCA were used in Holland in 1994. The Netherland produces about 14million tons of buildings and demolition wastes per annum in which about 8 million tons are recycled mainly for unbound road base courses.

    The 285 million tons of per annum construction waste produced in Germany, out of which 77 million tons are demolition waste. Approximately 70% of it is recycled and reused in new construction work. It has been estimated that approximately 13 million tons of concrete is demolished in France every year whereas in Japan total quantity of concrete debris is in the tune of 10-15 million tons each year. The Hong Kong generates about 20 million tons demolition debris per year and facing serious problem for its disposal.

    USA is utilizing approximately 2.7 billion tons of aggregate annually out of which 30-40% are used in road works and balance in structural concrete work. A recent report of Federal Highways Administration, USA refers to the relative experience from European data on the subject of concrete and asphalt pavement recycling as given in Table 3.The rapid development in research on the use of RCA for the production of new concrete has also led to the production of concrete of high strength/performance.

    Indian Status

    There is severe shortage of infrastructural facilities like houses, hospitals, roads etc. in India and large quantities of construction materials for creating these facilities are needed. The planning Commission allocated approximately 50% of capital outlay for infrastructure development in successive 10th & 11th five year plans. Rapid infrastructural development such highways, airports etc. and growing demand for housing has led to scarcity & rise in cost of construction materials. Most of waste materials produced by demolished structures disposed off by dumping them as land fill. Dumping of wastes on land is causing shortage of dumping place in urban areas. Therefore, it is necessary to start recycling and re-use of demolition concrete waste to save environment, cost and energy.

    Central Pollution Control Board has estimated current quantum of solid waste generation in India to the tune of 48 million tons per annum out of which, waste from construction industry only accounts for more than 25%. Management of such high quantum of waste puts enormous pressure on solid waste management system.

    In view of significant role of recycled construction material and technology in the development of urban infrastructure, TIFAC has conducted a techno-market survey on 'Utilization of Waste from Construction Industry' targeting housing /building and road segment. The total quantum of waste from construction industry is estimated to be 12 to 14.7 million tons per annum out of which 7-8 million tons are concrete and brick waste. According to findings of survey, 70% of the respondent have given the reason for not adopting recycling of waste from Construction Industry is "Not aware of the recycling techniques" while remaining 30% have indicated that they are not even aware of recycling possibilities. Further, the user agencies/ industries pointed out that presently, the BIS and other codal provisions do not provide the specifications for use of recycled product in the construction activities.

    In view of above, there is urgent need to take following measures:-
    • Sensitization/ dissemination/ capacity building towards utilization of construction & demolition waste.
    • Preparation and implementation of techno-legal regime including legislations, guidance, penalties etc. for disposal of building & construction waste.
    • Delineation of dumping areas for pre-selection, treatment, transport of RCA.
    • National level support on research studies on RCA.
    • Preparation of techno-financial regime, financial support for introducing RCA in construction including assistance in transportation, establishing recycling plant etc.
    • Preparation of data base on utilization of RCA.
    • Formulation of guidelines, specifications and codal provisions.
    • Preparation of list of experts available in this field who can provide knowhow and technology on totality basis.
    • Incentives on using recycled aggregate concrete-subsidy or tax exemptions.
    Realising the future & national importance of recycled aggregate concrete in construction, SERC, Ghaziabad had taken up a pilot R&D project on Recycling and Reuse of Demolition and Construction Wastes in Concrete for Low Rise and Low Cost Buildings in mid nineties with the aim of developing techniques/ methodologies for use recycled aggregate concrete in construction. The experimental investigations were carried out in Mat Science laboratory and Institutes around Delhi/GBD to evaluate the mechanical properties and durability parameters of recycled aggregate concrete made with recycled coarse aggregate collected from different sources. Also, the suitability in construction of buildings has been studied.

    The properties of RAC has been established and demonstrated through several experimental and field projects successfully. It has been concluded that RCA can be readily used in construction of low rise buildings, concrete paving blocks & tiles, flooring, retaining walls, approach lanes, sewerage structures, subbase course of pavement, drainage layer in highways, dry lean concrete(DLC) etc. in Indian scenario. Use of RCA will further ensure the sustainable development of society with savings in natural resources, materials and energy.

    Experimental Investigations

    In the present paper, an endeavor is made so as to compare some of the mechanical properties of recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) with the natural aggregate concrete (NAC). Since the enormous quantity of concrete is available for recycling from demolished concrete structures, field demolished concrete is used in the present study to produce the recycled aggregates. The concrete debris were collected from different (four) sources with the age ranging from 2 to 40 years old and broken into the pieces of approximately 80 mm size with the help of hammer & drilling machine. The foreign matters were sorted out from the pieces. Further, those pieces were crushed in a lab jaw crusher and mechanically sieved through sieve of 4.75 mm to remove the finer particles. The recycled coarse aggregates were washed to remove dirt, dust etc. and collected for use in concrete mix. The fine aggregate were separated out, and used for masonry mortar & lean concrete mixes, which is not part this reported study. But these were found to suit for normal brick masonary mortar and had normal setting and enough strength for masonary work.

    Concrete Mixes

    The two different mix proportions of characteristic strength of 20 N/ mm2 (M 20) and 25 N/mm2 (M 25) commonly used in construction of low rise buildings are obtained as per IS 10262 – 1982 or both recycled aggregate concrete and natural aggregate concrete. Due to the higher water absorption capacity of RCA as compared to natural aggregate, both the aggregates are maintained at saturated surface dry (SSD) conditions before mixing operations. The proportions of the ingredients constituting the concrete mixes are 1:1.5:2.9 and 1:1.2:2.4 with water cement ratio 0.50 & 0.45 respectively for M-20 & M-25 grade concrete. The ordinary Portland cement of 43 grade and natural fine aggregates (Haldwani sand) are used throughout the casting work. The maximum size of coarse aggregate used was 20 mm in both recycled and natural aggregate concrete.

    The total two mixes were cast using natural aggregate and eight mixes were cast using four type of recycled aggregate concrete for M-20 & M-25. The development of compressive strength is monitored by testing the 150-mm cubes at 1, 3, 7, 14, 28, 56 and 90 days. In one set 39 cubes were cast for each mix. The cylinder strength and corresponding strain & modulus of elasticity were measured in standard cylinder of 150x300 mm size at the age of 28 days. The prism of size 150x150x700 mm and cylinder of size 150x300mm were cast from the same batches to measure Flexural strength and splitting tensile strength respectively. This paper reports the results of experimental investigations on recycled aggregate concrete.

    Properties of Recycled Concrete Aggregate

    Particle Size Distribution

    The result of sieve analysis carried out as per IS 2386 for different types of crushed recycled concrete aggregate and natural aggregates. It is found that recycled coarse aggregate are reduced to various sizes during the process of crushing and sieving (by a sieve of 4.75mm), which gives best particle size distribution. The amount of fine particles (<4.75mm) after recycling of demolished were in the order of 5-20% depending upon the original grade of demolished concrete. The best quality natural aggregate can obtained by primary, secondary & tertiary crushing whereas the same can be obtained after primary & secondary crushing incase of recycled aggregate. The single crushing process is also effective in the case of recycled aggregate.

    The particle shape analysis of recycled aggregate indicates similar particle shape of natural aggregate obtained from crushed rock. The recycled aggregate generally meets all the standard requirements of aggregate used in concrete.

    Specific Gravity and Water Absorption

    The specific gravity (saturated surface dry condition) of recycled concrete aggregate was found from 2.35 to 2.58 which are lower as compared to natural aggregates. Since the RCA from demolished concrete consist of crushed stone aggregate with old mortar adhering to it, the water absorption ranges from 3.05% to 7.40%, which is relatively higher than that of the natural aggregates. The Table 4 gives the details of properties of RCA & natural aggregates. In general, as the water absorption characteristics of recycled aggregates are higher, it is advisable to maintain saturated surface dry (SSD) conditions of aggregate before start of the mixing operations.

    Bulk Density

    The rodded & loose bulk density of recycled aggregate is lower than that of natural aggregate except recycled aggregate-RCA4, which is obtained from demolished newly constructed culvert. Recycled aggregate had passed through the sieve of 4.75mm due to which voids increased in rodded condition. The lower value of loose bulk density of recycled aggregate may be attributed to its higher porosity than that of natural aggregate.

    Crushing and Impact Values

    The recycled aggregate is relatively weaker than the natural aggregate against mechanical actions. As per IS 2386, the crushing and impact values for concrete wearing surfaces should not exceed 45% and 50% respectively. The crushing & impact values of recycled aggregate satisfy the BIS specifications except RCA2 type of recycled aggregate for impact value as originally it is low grade rubbles.

    Compressive Strength

    The average compressive strengths cubes cast are determined as per IS 516 using RCA and natural aggregate at the age 1, 3, 7, 14, 28, 56 and 90 days and reported in Table 5. The table 4 shows that the target cube strength was achieved at 28 days for all types of concrete. As expected, the compressive strength of RAC is lower than the conventional concrete made from similar mix proportions. The reduction in strength of RAC as compare to NAC is in order of 2- 14% and 7.5 to 16% for M-20 & M-25 concretes respectively. The amount of reduction in strength depends on parameters such as grade of demolished concrete, replacement ratio, w/c ratio, processing of recycled aggregate etc.

    Splitting Tensile & Flexural Strength

    The average splitting tensile and flexural of recycled aggregate are determined at the age 1, 3, 7, 14, & 28 days varies from 0.30 -3.1 MPa and 0.95- 7.2 MPa respectively. The reduction in splitting and flexural strength of RAC as compared to NAC is in order of 5-12% and 4 -15% respectively.

    Modulus of Elasticity

    The static modulus of elasticity of RAC has been reported in Table 4 and found lower than the AC. The reduction is up to 15% .The reason for the lower static modulus of elasticity of RCA is higher proportion of hardened cement paste. It is well establish that Ec depends on Ec value of coarse aggregate, w/c ratio & cement paste etc. The modulus of elasticity is critical parameter for designing the structures, hence more studies are needed.


    The following parameters were studied to assess the influence of recycled aggregates on durability of concrete:


    Freeze-Thaw Resistance


    CO2 from the air penetrates into the concrete by diffusion process. The pores (pore size>100nm) in the concrete in which this transport process can take place are therefore particularly crucial for the rate of carbonation. The carbonation tests were carried out for 90 days on the specimens (150x150x150mm) of recycled aggregate concrete and natural aggregate concrete in carbonation chamber with relative humidity of 70% and 20% CO2 concentration. The carbonation depths of recycled aggregate concretes for different grade were found from 11.5 to 14mm as compared to 11mm depth for natural aggregate concrete. This increase in the carbonation depth of RAC as compared to NAC, attributed to porous recycled aggregate due to presence of old mortar attached to the crushed stone aggregate.

    Freeze-Thaw Resistance

    In the freeze-thaw resistance test (cube method), loss of mass of the concrete made with recycled aggregate was found sometimes above and below than that of concrete made with natural aggregate. The results were so close that no difference in freeze thaw resistance (after 100 cycles) could be found. The literature also found that the effect of cement mortar adhering to the original aggregate in RAC may not adversely affect the properties of RAC.

    Obstacles in Use of RCA & RAC

    The acceptability of recycled aggregate is impeded for structural applications due to the technical problems associated with it such as weak interfacial transition zones between cement paste and aggregate, porosity and transverse cracks within demolished concrete, high level of sulphate and chloride contents, impurity, cement remains, poor grading, and large variation in quality.

    Although, it is environmentally & economically beneficial to use RCA in construction, however the current legislation and experience are not adequate to support and encourage recycling of construction & demolished waste in India. Lack of awareness, guidelines, specifications, standards, data base of utilization of RCA in concrete and lack of confidence in engineers, researchers and user agencies is major cause for poor utilization of RCA in construction. If the Govt wishes these obstacles can easily be removed.


    Recycling and reuse of building wastes have been found to be an appropriate solution to the problems of dumping hundred of thousands tons of debris accompanied with shortage of natural aggregates. The use of recycled aggregates in concrete prove to be a valuable building materials in technical, environment and economical respect

    Recycled aggregate posses relatively lower bulk density, crushing and impact values and higher water absorption as compared to natural aggregate. The compressive strength of recycled aggregate concrete is relatively lower up to 15% than natural aggregate concrete. The variation also depends on the original concrete from which the aggregates have been obtained. The durability parameters studied at SERC(G) confirms suitability of RCA & RAC in making durable concrete structures of selected types.

    There are several reliable applications for using recycled coarse aggregate in construction. However, more research and initiation of pilot project for application of RCA is needed for modifying our design codes, specifications and procedure for use of recycled aggregate concrete. The subject of use of RCA in construction works in India should be given impetus, because of big infrastructural projects are being commissioned including Common Wealth Games in 2010.


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