With the ever growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing precast has become a material of interest and for good reason. Since the dawn of man we have been mixing dirt, straw, and gravel to make brick and slab. Today things are a little different, we mix cement, water, and a few other additives to make all kinds of things. Concrete is cast from a majority of naturally occurring resources that do not require a large processing plant or a large amount of carbon emissions to be put into production.
Journey with me through the lifespan of a precast product. Our journey begins with the raw materials, what exactly goes into a concrete mix? The main ingredient is cement mix, followed by water, gravel/aggregate, and any other additives depending on the installation location. When it comes to precasting concrete mix is the most emissions heavy material, most precasters use Portland concrete mix, while not a bad option Portland concrete mix causes more CO2 emissions than the concrete mix Empire Precast utilizes. In recent years a new material known as Fly Ash. Fly ash reduces emissions in two fold, firstly fly ash cuts down on the amount of cementitious material needed in each product which reduces the carbon footprint of each piece. Secondly, fly ash is harvested from coal plant emissions which helps to offset the environmental impact of the fly ash that would go to waste otherwise. For more information on how Fly Ash is used please refer to our article on concrete durability.
Once a precast product has been installed and lived out its lifespan in the public environment eventually the concrete will need to be replaced. And while the product will need to be destroyed it will continue to live on in another form. Precast concretes can be broken and ground up rather easily and then used as new aggregate again to become a part of a new product so that the emissions used to create the original product do not go to waste.