In Harford County, old building materials find a new life

12/13/2022| Daniel Leaderman

In Harford County, old building materials find a new life

12/13/2022 | Daniel Leaderman

Ask someone about recycling and they’ll likely give you the household basics: bottles, cans, and boxes, separating plastics from food waste, and remembering to lug the bins to the curb on the right day.

They probably won’t be thinking about gravel, sand, and other substances often referred to as “construction aggregates,” which are often used to make composites such as concrete and asphalt.

But raw materials used in the construction industry are finite resources, which is why Repurpose Aggregates  in Harford County is responding to rising demand by focusing on sustainability and renewable solutions.

Aerial view of Repurpose Aggregates equipment

An enterprise launched by Harford Minerals (with a large investment in plant equipment produced by CDE Group) in 2020, Repurpose Aggregates takes unused or unwanted materials from construction and demolition projects, washes them, and processes them into usable materials such as concrete sand, fine sand, various sizes of gravel, and loam. These are then offered back to the industry in the place of new, or “virgin” materials.

The company recently celebrated the opening of its new industrial recycling wash plant in Joppatowne—the first such state-of-the-art facility in the region. But while this type of facility may be new in town, the idea itself has been around for some time, according to the company.

“Other parts of the world, especially in Europe, long ago faced the issue of dwindling natural aggregate resources, having to find a solution that wouldn’t sacrifice quality but could meet the demand of expanding infrastructure and development,” said Miguel Lambert, president of Repurpose Aggregates. “Hearing about what was happening abroad made it clear that our need for similar solutions would come sooner rather than later.”

Rather than going to landfills, local construction companies can take their construction, demolition and excavation (or CDE) waste to the Repurpose Aggregates facility, where they can also load their trucks with freshly recycled material. The company estimates that 95 percent of the materials it processes are diverted from landfills.

Man's hands holding repurposed aggregate

“The advantage of Repurpose Aggregates is a steady, high-quality source for aggregates that doesn’t require further mining, as ideal mining locations dwindle,” Lambert said. “This year, companies experienced unprecedented fluctuations due to supply chain and inflation issues. Repurpose Aggregates introduces stability to the market, influencing price for the better.”

Maryland proved to be an ideal place for the new plant due to the growing population–and the affordability–of the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore regions.

“The construction industry in the Mid Atlantic region of the U.S. is booming,” Lambert said. “It is vital to support the success of myriad development and infrastructure improvements and showcase the possibilities of sustainable aggregate solutions so we can serve as a local example for the future of the industry.”

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