New City Partnership Aims To Keep Concrete Out Of Landfills

Aug. 11, 2014Houston Public Media

At the Cherry concrete recycling center on Holmes Road, trucks were dumping big blocks of concrete into a large funnel.

“That kind of sifts out some of the dirt,” Max Hounshell with Cherry Companies said. He pointed to some workers at a conveyor belt.

“After the guys kind of hand-sift out anything that the sifter doesn’t catch, it goes up into the conveyor belt into a huge processing machine that basically hammers it and grinds it into whatever product and whatever size that we’re wanting to make at the time.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker recently advertised a new partnership between the city and Cherry Companies.

“I’m proud to announce that residents may now drop off scrap concrete — scrap concrete — at any one of the six neighborhood depositories,” Parker said. “The material will be recycled for use in new construction projects in Houston.”

Cherry will provide containers at those locations and pick them up regularly.

Recycled concrete is already being used here. Parker said one example is a section of Interstate-10, between the 610 Loop and I-45.

“This project is the first one in the nation where all the aggregates used for pavement concrete, both coarse and fine, were recycled with no virgin aggregates used,” she said.

Back at the recycling center, a machine that looked like a giant jack hammer was breaking up a large piece of concrete that had just arrived.

Hounshell said recycled concrete is used a lot in Houston nowadays.

“Actually, it’s one of the preferred aggregates for new construction projects,” he said, “simply because our recycled product is almost 40 percent cheaper than new virgin materials.”

In fact, Houston has one of the highest recycling rates of building products in the state. A report by the Texas Department of Transportation notes that recycled materials make up one-fourth of the region’s construction market.

Both the city and Cherry Companies hope that number will rise even more with the new recycling partnership.