Making Good on the Environment Makes Good Economic Sense

Environmental regulations and heightening overhead costs, compounded with falling construction spending and cement demand, is a bleak forecast that has many concrete producers closing and talking about price increases. Though California is outperforming the average, a need exists not only to make money but to save money.

Background:

Spragues' Ready Mix serves small to midsize contractors, and operates 12 trucks at their Irwindale, CA facility. As an independent producer, Spragues' is not vertically integrated with aggregate companies; making them dependent upon crushed rock, sand, and gravel suppliers.

Problem:

Specializing to a niche market generates a fair share of unused concrete returns. In an effort to be more "green", SRM invested in reclaimer technology that reduced their aggregate dependency by approximately 30% The remaining 70% of irreclaimable material was disposed of as compounded waste, and ultimately replenished. The gray water was introduced back to the batch with some success, but created quality and consistency issues.

They concluded that the reclaimer performance was related to specific gravity levels in the gray water it produced. The recycling process stopped when the cement fines reached saturation; pinpointing the solution to slurry management.

Spragues' used conventional do-it-yourself methods to reduce cement fines. "One of the problems we faced was available space to dry out our slurry into a solid that was suitable for disposal", stated Steve Toland, COO. "We would have to dredge our ponds, dry out the slurry, which could take up to two-weeks and created dust and track-out issues."

Solution:

In May of 2009, Spragues' installed a Liebherr LRS 708 concrete reclaimer and an ALAR Auto-VacĀ® AV640-C slurry-water recycling system combination. "We are capable of reclaiming up to 30 cubic yards a day. However, with limited water capacity, we usually reclaim 10 to 15 cubic yards. We typically filter 12,000 gallons of [slurry] five days a week, which is used as ready mix batch water", says Toland.

Spragues' approach to aggregate reclaiming and slurry processing is very simple: "The cost of aggregate remains very high, disposal costs also continue to rise. It makes sense for us to reuse as much of this natural resource for economic reasons with a lesser impact on our environment."

Since the implementation of the Liebherr/ALAR combo, SRM reports dollar savings in 'tens-of-thousands' with a 90% reduction in their waste stream. "We have been able to dramatically reduce our disposal costs of returned concrete and reuse most of the returned concrete back into ready mix production", Steve claims.

An integral part of Spragues' philosophy is maintaining waste and water management efforts while remaining innovative with products, services, and people. "If it is good for the customer, good for the environment, and makes economic sense, then it is the right thing to do."