Ceramic waste used as aggregate in concrete can match or improve performance over concrete using other aggregates, writes Ben Pilkington. With as much as 10% of ceramic tile production ending up as waste, it can be an important source to relieve ongoing material shortages in construction.



Concrete aggregate material made from ceramic waste is a ready solution for material shortages in the construction industry.

It can also help building projects minimize their environmental footprint. At present, ceramic waste use is limited in the construction industry due to a lack of understanding. In fact, ceramic waste matches or can improve the performance of other common aggregates used for concrete.


Ceramic Tile Waste is a Bountiful Material

The ceramic tile industry necessarily creates a large amount of waste. Brittle ceramic tiles can easily break in production or transit, and the subtractive methods used for making them creates a lot of waste material in the manufacturing process itself.

In 2020, China – the largest manufacturer of ceramic tiles worldwide – produced almost 8.5 billion m2 of tiles. The Indian ceramic industry, another global leader, is estimated to be worth $3.72 billion, producing around 55 million ceramic tiles annually.

But between 8% and 10% of the material used in ceramic tile manufacturing is wasted every day. This is unavoidable with current production methods, as the brittle tiles easily break in production and transit.Now, the ceramics industry is under pressure to find ways to repurpose this waste usefully, rather than filling up landfill sites and losing the energy and carbon investment in making the tiles in the first place.


Using Ceramic Waste as Coarse Aggregate for Concrete

There is good news for the ceramics industry: repurposed ceramic waste is an ideal candidate material for greener concrete.

It can be used as a full or partial replacement for coarse aggregate in concrete. This reduces the demand for quarried aggregate material, which requires significant amounts of energy use and pollution to extract and process.