Recycling street sweepings
This unique and award-winning scheme turns street sweepings into concrete blocks, and so prevents waste going to landfill. It demonstrates just one of the innovative ways that SUEZ puts waste to good use.
To reduce waste going to landfill
Historically, street sweepings in the UK have been sent to landfill. SUEZ’s goal was to manage the disposal of street sweepings, divert them from landfill and improve local authorities’ recycling figures.
Using street sweepings for concrete blocks and landfill restoration
Each year, we process around 70,000 tonnes of street sweepings at our Wolverhampton and Coventry sites.
The street sweepings are thoroughly cleaned to remove pollution from vehicle exhausts. They are then separated into composite parts: sand, aggregate and organic materials. Non-hazardous waste, such as ferrous metals, is also separated and recycled.
Organic materials (e.g. leaves and twigs) and filter cake (the sludge left after washing) are used for landfill restoration. Once a landfill has been capped, the materials are used to cover the area, forming the base on which the restoration takes place.
The sand and aggregate are mixed with cement and used to make concrete blocks. The sand and aggregate achieve end-of-waste status, meaning they are now considered products and the concrete blocks can be sold commercially.
Unique and innovative
The concept of making concrete blocks from recycled sand and aggregates is unique within the industry, and involved close cooperation with the Environment Agency as well as engagement with staff throughout the process.
This project provides an alternative to sending street sweepings to landfill, reduces the need for virgin materials, and generates a sustainable supply of materials for concrete-block making.
The Environment Agency granted the concrete blocks ‘end-of-waste status’, meaning they can now be considered a marketable product. They also approved the filter cake and organics for landfill restoration.
Blocks can be sold back to the council for their own construction needs, making this a sustainable, closed-loop system. There is also potential to expand the project to become a source of commercial revenue.
The project was named Best Recycled Product of the year 2016 at MRW’s National Recycling Awards and received an Award for Excellence in the Circular Economy Success category at letsrecycle.com’s Awards for Excellence 2016.