How to Dispose of Old Concrete and Where to Dump It
Can You Throw Away Old Concrete, Bricks, or Rocks?
Can you throw old concrete, bricks, or rocks away? The short answer is no, and it's one of the most daunting recycling and disposal dilemmas around: What do you do with old, broken-up construction debris?
Whether you are dismantling a structure, tearing out some steps, or replacing a dilapidated driveway, you will quickly learn that the big challenge isn't the remodeling work, it's the disposal of the old stuff.
This article addresses the issue as it applies to the average homeowner, not to a large commercial project. Unfortunately for residential materials, there aren't a lot of viable options (yet). You may have some luck finding someone who's looking for fill material. If not, here are some other broken concrete (or brick) disposal options.
How to Dispose of Concrete
1. Haul It Away in a Pickup Truck
If you have access to a pickup truck, you can haul the stuff away yourself, but you'll probably have to make several trips. Be careful not to overload the vehicle. Because it will be too heavy, you will not be able to fill the entire bed of the average pickup. Yes, I mean to the top rail height! If you overload the truck, you will bust the springs, cause the shocks to fail, and/or seriously strain the engine. Please don't be like so many suburban homeowners who think pickups can handle a semi-trailer's worth of weight because the truck looks great in those "Like a Rock" commercials.
Tips on Loading Concrete, Bricks, or Rocks
- Line the bed with a bedliner (if it doesn't have one) or consider placing some moving pads on the pickup bed before loading it up. Moving pads can be bought or rented at your local U-Haul or other moving supplies store.
- Loading concrete into a pickup is a huge pain in the ass, and you're going to need help. Even your best friends will probably need to be enticed and rewarded for their help. The standard "I'll buy ya a beer" is simply insufficient.
- Consider buying a utility trailer if you own a home or piece of land. A used trailer can be more useful than you realize. Shop around and compare the cost of buying vs. renting a trailer.
Where to Take a Truckload of Concrete
Take the load to a landfill that accepts "C & D" (junk-hauler parlance for "construction and demolition" materials). It probably won't be cheap. Remember, this is concrete. It's a pain to get rid of.
You can also try to find a landfill that takes stuff by the load rather than by weight. Some landscaping or gardening supply outlets, which cater to landscaping contractors, will accept C & D on a per-pickup-load basis.
Continue scrolling down for more ideas about where to take a load of cement, rocks, bricks, or other heavy construction debris.
How Much Does Concrete Disposal Cost?
You'll have to pay per load, anywhere from $20 on up. Probably most places are charging around $40 for a pickup load of broken concrete these days.
2. List It on Craigslist
Many people go online looking for free or cheap building materials to use for their projects. You probably won't get anyone to pay for it, but you may find someone who's willing to take it off your hands if you list it on Craigslist or Freecycle. If you have a truck you might be able to charge them for delivery, however, or throw that in to sweeten the deal and get the stuff off your hands.
3. Contact a Building Materials Supply Company
Building materials supply companies — the larger-scale operations that have a fleet of cement mixers and/or gravel-hauling dump trucks — may take your old concrete. Some may even do so free of charge, providing you haul it to their location and unload it yourself. It never hurts to call them and ask.
4. Find a Landscaping Company That Uses Recycled Materials
Some sustainable-minded landscapers use recycled or reused materials to build flower beds, retaining walls, or other landscaping projects. Sometimes, they'll even come to you and haul it away themselves: a win-win situation all around.
5. Find a Hauler
Search your community's websites for "haulers." They'll probably take your old concrete if you are honest with them over the phone: tell them roughly how much you have, and if it's ready to go, i.e. in a nice pile (or not). If your debris isn't ready to go, expect to pay extra for the dismantling. You thought of that, right?
Obviously, you'll pay more to a hauler than you would if you dumped the stuff yourself. If using a hauler doesn't cost more than what you would pay if you brought it to the dump or landfill yourself, then the hauler in question has a place to dump it. Some guys are contractors and use it as fill, while others get "volume discounts" from a series of landfills that they work with. Either way, rest assured it won't end up at the side of the road, as illegal dumping has gotten very financially risky and harder to get away with.
Any individual or business that will accept your old concrete, but will only do so for a price, is more than likely doing you and the environment a favor. Remember, old concrete isn't a commodity with similar recyclable value that scrap metals or cardboard possess. If the price is reasonable, pay up.
Which brings up another point: please don't illegally dump construction debris yourself, m'kay? You thought about this for about a second, didn't you?
6. Try 1-800-Got-Junk
I don't know what the 1-800-GOT-JUNK people in your area charge for the hauling of broken concrete. They seem to specialize in hauling off old furniture, trinkets, tires, and, well, junk.
You can call them for a quote, but they're pricey even on stuff that Goodwill, veterans groups, and the Salvation Army will pick up for free, so they probably won't be cost-effective on a load of relatively useless broken concrete.
7. Reuse It Yourself
It's a lot of work, but you can reuse your own debris creatively around your property to build a wall, flower bed, terrace, pathway, or some other landscaping project.
8. Put It Out With a "Free" Sign
If you put the pile out by the side of the road with a "free" sign on it, you might get lucky and catch the eye of some concrete-needing passerby. It's worth a try.
Ways to Recycle and Reuse Old Concrete
- Lay paths, walkways, or stepping stones
- Build raised garden beds
- Stack it to make a garden bench
- Build retaining walls
- Lay a driveway
- Create a fountain, pond, or water feature
- Use it as pavers to create a terrace or patio
- Use it to improve the drainage in muddy spot on your property
- Create a rockery or rock garden
- Build a fire pit
- Use it to create steps
- Crush it ("rubbelize" it) to make aggregate for any construction project
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with crushed asphalt, rocks, gravel, broken cement, and other demolition debris?
Any of these materials can be disposed of the same way as you would old concrete, so choose an option from the list above.
Where can I dump concrete for free near me?
Google, Yelp, or a community website is probably your best bet. Search online for "concrete disposal near me."
How do I dispose of concrete mix or powder?
Sometimes, when you're pouring concrete, you might have some of the dry stuff leftover. If it hasn't gone hard yet, then consider using it as a stabilizer and tilling it into the soil. If you can break it up, try mixing it with fresh concrete to use for setting a post or some other rough project, but if you're doing something critical like pouring a foundation, you'll probably want to start with fresh stuff.
What happens to old concrete?
Either the slabs are repurposed to build or crushed to be used as an aggregate or building material. Some companies recycle concrete by pulverizing it with industrial crushing equipment. This process is called "rubblization." If a builder wants to be certified as a LEED Green Builder, they get points for finding creative uses to use and build with old concrete.