Fort McCoy News March 11, 2016

Concrete recycling helps crush solid-waste costs

Public Affairs Staff

Hundreds of tons of concrete recycled at Fort McCoy each year find new purpose as material to create a road base or upgrade tank trails.

Water and Wastewater Branch Supervisor Michael Miller with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) said the Army has a standing goal to reduce the amount of waste sent to a landfill by 50 percent.

"The term for not sending waste to a landfill is called diversion," said Miller, who also oversees recycling efforts at Fort McCoy. "One of the things you can do to divert waste is recycle it."

Photo: A contractor uses a loader to fill a rock crusher at an area on Fort McCoy’s North Post.
A contractor uses a loader to fill a rock crusher at an area on Fort McCoy's North Post.

Military installations such as Fort McCoy, Miller said, have many types of waste streams. Old concrete is part of the construction and demolition (C&D) waste stream, which also must have a recycle rate of at least 50 percent.

"About 85 to 90 percent of the C&D waste weight is concrete," Miller said. "So by recycling and reusing that concrete alone, we are surpassing that 50 percent goal. We were close to 99 percent in C&D waste recycling (in 2015)."

Contractor Panacea Group of Seymour, Wis., began work in February with a rock crusher at a Directorate of Public Works (DPW) staging area on North Post, said DPW General Engineer John Adams.

"The rock crusher is set up there for primarily crushing nearly 20,000 tons of old concrete," Adams said. "During this process, (the contractor) separates metals from the concrete and that also gets recycled."

Most of the concrete that is crushed and recycled comes from the demolition of old buildings and infrastructure within the cantonment area at Fort McCoy.

"It could be old footings or foundations, old stairways, or even parking areas," Adams said.

"When the demolition is done, the concrete gets hauled up to the holding area on North Post. When there is a sufficient accumulation of concrete and materials that need to be crushed and recycled, we cut a task order to have a contractor come in and get it done."

Metals separated from the concrete are sorted in two piles for ferrous and nonferrous materials. Ferrous metals have iron in them, such as rebar. Nonferrous metals include aluminum, brass, copper, nickel, tin, lead, and zinc, as well as precious metals such as gold and silver.

"Once the metals are weighed, they are hauled offsite," Adams said. "During the process they submit weight tickets of what was separated to DPW."

The concrete recycling process is not new to Fort McCoy, Miller said.

For years, the crushed concrete gravel has been used for road and trail improvements throughout the installation. The biggest advantage of the concrete recycling, however, is the money saved.

"You first have to look at the cost of sending something to the landfill," Miller said. "With nearly 100 percent of the concrete being recycled here, that's hundreds of tons of material we are not paying to be sent to a landfill somewhere, which is significant.

"Then you also have to look at the cost of not having to buy new materials for the road improvements that take place annually at Fort McCoy," Miller said. "That, again, is the kind of material we would have to buy, but instead we are recycling it and not incurring that cost. It's an all-around economically beneficial process."

For more information about recycling at Fort McCoy recycling operations, call 608-388-6546.