Unwanted bricks can be reused or crushed and recycled, minimising mining and quarrying activities and diverting waste materials from costly landfill.
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Recycling bricks minimises the need for mining and quarrying activities to produce new bricks and diverts significant quantities of waste materials from landfill. Recycling bricks also results in cost savings for businesses through avoidance of landfill fees and transport costs, and through the reuse of bricks in other construction applications such as paving and landscaping.
Approximately 8 million tonnes of brick was disposed of (landfill and recycling) in Australia in 20051. If all of this were commercially recycled it would be the equivalent “everyday” savings of over 1.5 million households’ energy requirements for a month.
Environmental Benefits of Commercial Recycling for Bricks
"Everyday" and unit savings per tonne of bricks2 recycled:
|95 km driven3|
|0.02 tonnes CO2e|
|0.2 houses' energy for a month4|
|0.28 GJ LHV (78kWh)|
|7 bath tubs5|
|1.26 kL water|
|19 wheelie bins6|
For an explanation of key terms used, please visit our Glossary.
A number of commercial operators provide brick recycling facilities, such as bins and dumpsters, which can be placed on site (commercial, demolition or residential sites) for the collection and removal of bricks. There are also options for on-site crushing and reuse and central drop-off yards for unwanted bricks.
What Happens When It's Recycled?
Bricks can be recycled in two ways. First, they can be cleaned and reused in another building or project. Alternatively, they can be crushed into brick chips (for use as a landscape material) and/or finer particles (for use in manufacturing road-base, track and drainage material, fill sand or new bricks).
More Info & Sources
1. Hyder Consulting (2009) Waste and Recycling in Australia: Amended report. Hyder Consulting, Melbourne, p. 7
2. Data for bricks (Commercial & Industrial and Construction & Demolition recycling only) contained in Table 4 (p.14) Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (2010) Environmental Benefits of Recycling, DECCW, Sydney South
3. “Everyday” greenhouse gas emission savings expressed as number of kilometers driven by an average new passenger and light commercial vehicle (206.6g CO2e / km). National Transport Commission (2012) Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2011 Information Paper
4. “Everyday” cumulative energy demand savings expressed as average household monthly electricity requirements (500 kWh). 1GJ LHV = 278kWh (GJ LHV = Giga-joules of fossil energy (low heating value); kWh = Kilowatt hour)
5. “Everyday” water savings corresponding to average sized bath tubs (0.175 kL capacity)
6. “Everyday” solid waste savings represented by number of average sized wheelie bins (55kg capacity)