Comparative environmental assessment of natural and recycled aggregate concrete
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Constant and rapid increase in construction and demolition (C&D) waste generation and consumption of natural aggregate for concrete production became one of the biggest environmental problems in the construction industry. Recycling of C&D waste represents one way to convert a waste product into a resource but the environment benefits through energy consumption, emissions and fallouts reductions are not certain. The main purpose of this study is to determine the potentials of recycled aggregate concrete (concrete made with recycled concrete aggregate) for structural applications and to compare the environmental impact of the production of two types of ready-mixed concrete: natural aggregate concrete (NAC) made entirely with river aggregate and recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) made with natural fine and recycled coarse aggregate. Based on the analysis of up-to-date experimental evidence, including own tests results, it is concluded that utilization of RAC for low-to-middle strength stru...ctural concrete and non-aggressive exposure conditions is technically feasible. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is performed for raw material extraction and material production part of the concrete life cycle including transport. Assessment is based on local LCI data and on typical conditions in Serbia. Results of this specific case study show that impacts of aggregate and cement production phases are slightly larger for RAC than for NAC but the total environmental impacts depend on the natural and recycled aggregates transport distances and on transport types. Limit natural aggregate transport distances above which the environmental impacts of RAC can be equal or even lower than the impacts of NAC are calculated for the specific case study.