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M Tucker & Sons turns worksite waste into valuable resource

Waste is treated, separated and turned into structural concrete.

Civil and trenchless drainage specialist M Tucker & Sons is expanding its services it can offer customers and tackling no-dig waste at the same time.

In the trenchless industry, it’s well known that no-dig drilling (NDD) and horizontal directional drilling (HDD) are the methods of choice on projects that aim to minimise disruption and impact on communities and the environment.

The waste produced by these operations is one thing that has been consistently overlooked.

M Tucker & Sons is now set up to take what most operators consider waste and is transforming it into a useable product that can be used to give back to the community – concrete.

Disposal of waste from NDD and HDD isn’t free. There is a price associated with its collection, as well as fees at the landfill and the cost of trucking it to be thrown away.

Beyond that, there is an environmental cost. In a world where operators are becoming increasingly aware of sustainable practices, reusing waste products is as good as it gets.

A win-win situation
When the company owner Mark Tucker came up with the idea, the focus was on landfill diversion. While NDD and HDD waste contains vegetation and other contaminants, it also contains all the crushed rock, sand and silt that can be repurposed.

By taking the waste product from work sites to the plant that the company set up at its headquarters in Mount Evelyn, east of Melbourne, the company is able to save money by refining it into concrete that could be transported back to the worksite. The product can be used to construct pits for construction projects, or even for poured-concrete furniture, planter boxes, and community pathways.

“The goal is to team up with major construction projects to help them meet their sustainability goals, and to keep costs down. Manufacturing concrete also means we don’t have to buy quarry products, which reduces the carbon footprint of a project even further,” says Tucker.

The company is using the concrete on its own work sites, but Tucker says there is more than enough that can be used by one company.

The process
M Tucker & Sons is able to utilise waste not only from NDD and HDD projects, but also storm water waste, excavated material and waste pulled from gutters by local councils.

The waste-turned-resource comes in under an EPA licence where it is registered, stored, and then tested to determine its contents.

Once that’s done, the material pushed through a CDE G:MAX wet recycling system where it is treated and separated into real waste (plant matter and rubbish) and useable material – clean stone, sand and water.

Rocks are then sized so they can be used in different forms of concrete.

“We understand what we have. We have the data to show that we’re manufacturing structural concrete,” says Tucker.

An added benefit is the company doesn’t have to introduce water to the cleaning process. The water from the mud that comes in as waste is treated with special polymers and chemicals that help the solids settle during the cleaning process and can be collected and reused.

With increasing amounts of water being generated, M Tucker & Sons is now undertaking studies to determine how excess water can be made safe to use as part of the concrete itself, further increasing the amount of recycled material used, which is already 70 per cent.

Able to meet all needs
Tucker says that the entire operation is scalable, allowing the company to increase the amount of waste it processes, or concrete it generates.

The plant can be set up temporarily on-site for larger projects.
The plant can be set up temporarily on-site for larger projects.

“If the project is big enough, we can set up on a temporary footprint, put a dewatering system there and create the product, the concrete, on site,” Tucker says.

He says that, especially with the prevalence of no-dig options in urban areas with a lot of foot traffic, he would like to see concrete paths underfoot that came from the invisible projects that, despite best efforts, do have some impact on the community.

“It’s how we can give something back,” says Tucker.

Equipped with undeniable proof of the viability of its process, M Tucker & Sons can help industry operators across the civil and construction industry ensure the sustainability of their operations.

For more information visit M Tucker & Sons.

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This article appeared in the December edition of Trenchless Australasia. Access the digital copy of the magazine here.

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