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Winnipeg public works committee moves to study recycled concrete

A Winnipeg City Council committee has voted to ask the city to study how to incorporate the use of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) in road building, as a base and sub-base material.

The Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works Committee approved a motion directing the Winnipeg Public Service:  

  1. To continue to work with industry stakeholders including the Specification Review Committee, and Dr. Shalaby of the University of Manitoba, through the 2021 construction season, and report back within 410 days on a review of best practices and recommendations, including a cross-jurisdictional analysis, for increased use of Reclaimed Concrete Aggregate (RCA), and include the following:
    1. Develop a report within which the City will provide recommendations on how to increase the use of Reclaimed Concrete Aggregate (RCA) in its road base design, including consideration of suggested targets;
    2. Conduct laboratory testing of market-available RCA to assess performance characteristics and any associated technical issues that impact the use of RCA;
    3. Based upon the above, recommend design inputs and specifications for recycled concrete to reach performance objectives that are the equivalent to those achieved by virgin materials;
    4. Through appropriate analysis, identify and quantify the cost, and economic, environmental and resource-management benefits associated with the use of RCA;
    5. Identify accompanying policy instruments and measures related to the collection and disposal of construction debris (including demolished street surface concrete) in support of the above objectives;
    6. Consider such other ancillary matters as may be required; 
  1. To provide quarterly updates to the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works beginning in January, 2021.
  2. That the Proper Officers of the City be authorized to do all things necessary to implement the

“We are encouraged the councillors on the IRPW recognized the critical importance of reusing this recyclable product – 500,000 tonnes of demolished concrete is taken up every year in Winnipeg, from city road, water & waste, utility work and private sector development,” MHCA President Chris Lorenc said. “We cannot dump this recoverable resource in the landfill.”

Lorenc noted that demolished concrete is used in many jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and globally. In Edmonton, for example, more than 200,000 tonnes of crushed concrete is re-used in road building annually.

The IRPW’s approval for a study follows a September 3rd tour hosted by the MHCA for some councillors, including committee Chair Matt Allard, of a road construction site where concrete is being pulled up, a crushing yard where RCA is being reclaimed for use and to a discussion forum at the Portuguese Association Centre.

The use of RCA has become an issue with the City’s introduction of road-building specification CW3110 R-21, which requires aggregates used as base and sub-base materials for roads to pass more tests with tighter standards. The intent of the updated specifications is to build longer lasting roads.

However, this year, not a single supplier producing RCA has been able to consistently meet the specifications and no RCA have been used in road building.

Other municipalities follow Winnipeg’s specifications, as do private developers.

“Winnipeg has been using RCA for decades,” Lorenc told the committee councillors. “We are not experimenting here – RCA is used around the world. Indeed, governments across Canada and globally promote recycled concrete for road building because it is a good product and it makes good sense.

“Don’t turn a recyclable product into an environmental liability.”