A concrete solution for recycling street sweepings

Street sweepings are being turned into concrete blocks, diverting tonnes of material away from landfill. An award-winning project shows how SUEZ innovation can put challenging waste streams to good use.
The mission

To divert waste from councils’ street cleansing going to landfill

Historically, street sweepings in the UK have been sent to landfill. SUEZ’s goal was to use its resource management expertise to devise a sustainable solution for this waste, diverting street sweepings away from landfill, recovering value and improving our Midlands local authority customers’ recycling figures.
Our solution

Using street sweepings in 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 their 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, these materials can be used to cover the area, forming the base on which restoration takes place.

 

The sand and aggregate are mixed with cement and used to make concrete blocks. As the materials achieve end-of-waste status, the concrete blocks are approved for commercial sale by the Environment Agency. It also approved the filter cake and organics for landfill restoration.

The results

Award-winning scheme

This solution not only provides an alternative to landfilling sweepings, it has recovered natural resources, reducing the need for virgin materials, and generating a sustainable supply of materials for concrete-block making.

 

Blocks sold back to councils for their own construction needs makie this a sustainable, closed-loop system. There is also potential to expand the project to generate 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.

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street sweepings sent to landfill
70,000
tonnes
street sweepings recycled every year
1,600
blocks
made from 2,200 tonnes of aggregate and 700 tonnes of sand
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