The Trouble with Concrete Washout Bags

Concrete washout bags are easy to use and are cheap to buy. They are lined with an inner plastic bag to stop the leaching of the washout water. They have tie ropes to keep the bag up while being filled.

Concrete pump operators keep them on their pumps in case of emergencies when builders haven’t thought of organising a washout area. They have a holding capacity of .5 of a cubic metre. When used on site, the builder needs a crane or forklift to lift as the bag would weigh around a tonne or more when full.

We used to sell the bags around 2 years ago but stopped because of the amount of plastic we were taking to the concrete recyclers and our decision not to use plastic in our operation.

Concrete recyclers were also explaining that it was very difficult to remove all the plastic from the concrete, contaminating the

recycled concrete, and the bags outside weaved material getting caught in the crusher causing them to shut down to untangle the material.

The builder’s problems arise when the pump needs more than a volume of .5m3 to wash out and the water ends up all over the surrounding area. This can create slip hazards when the slurry dries or if used on a roadway, as well as time and labour to clean up after the pump has gone. When the bag is picked up full and wet, the slurry often pours out of the bag, as it has no rigidity until the concrete has cured.

These bags are usually dumped into the onsite skip and add to hidden costs as the skip bin will quickly get to its weight limit without even utilising the skips volume capacity. The builders who are adopting a more sustainable future would possibly not use these bags on their sites.

Enjoy the photos.  The next post is on concrete washout trays.

Is this set up really going to work?

Overweight issues:

Need a bigger bag:

Future land fill; there is a better way:


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Challenges and Risks of Working with Concrete

Hello again, as mentioned in our introductory post, over the years we have had feedback from different builders in the industry about their problems.   As a growing company with a specialised service, we have used the feedback to help guide our growth to better serve the construction industry and assist in solving the problems and associated costs in that specific sector and making the full process sustainable. 

Here are some of the things we have learned

  • The cost of waste. The most generally talked about problem, is the increase in cost of waste over the years. Builders on larger sites have the option of getting different skip bins to separate waste streams and increase recycling and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. The builders on confined spaces, besides having a logistical problem, need to reduce the amount of waste produced on their site. 
  • Some builders tell us that some skip bin companies are having an issue with wet concrete being tipped into their skips. This wet concrete when dried is getting stuck to the inside of the skip and causing a problem when they attempt to tipBesides getting stuck in the bin, the concrete also binds to the general waste making the separation of waste for recycling difficultresulting in sending more concrete to land fill.  
  • After a concrete pump has been washed and the washout water hasn’t been contained properly, council fines are a major concern. There is also the labour and time to clean up the mess and the cost can add up 
  • Hidden costs can make a budget blow out, so more builders are calculating their hidden costs associated with crane or manitou time relating to the movementin delivering and emptying the concrete washout tray, and also the waste cost when tipping the concrete into the onsite skip. There is also the time in finding storage space for the washout tray to live  
  • Sustainability is slowly becoming more important in the construction industry. Some of you may be nodding in agreement, some may be thinking not the greenies again! Sustainability encompasses, social, environmental, and economic factors. Those ahead of the curve may be looking for new systems to assist them to advance in that area. 
  • Plastic waste is becoming a bigger concern to some in the construction industry as a lot is used when pumping concrete. The contamination of plastic in concrete for recyclers is becoming bigger problem as recycling of a clean product can make money for some and save money for othersCompanies concerned in sustainable practices may be interested in reducing the use of plastic in this area. 

As we go through the different methods used by different builders, I’ll leave it up to you to make your own mind up. Maybe you have done the same or maybe you have found a different method that hahelped you make some savings. Feel free to comment as we are here to help each other out. 

Residential Building Waste
Let’s start with this residential builder. They have decided to contain their washout waste by lining the street with plastic. The common feedback from different builders when shown this shot, is about the hard labour needed to break up and remove the concrete. There is also the time to go to the tip and back, with tips fees, and that time could be better spent out on their boat, fishing! Jokes aside, each of us will have a thought on the cost of time and labour and how each of those can be spent productively 


EPA Fines and Personal Risk

There is the possible risk of a fine with this waste left on the road, not only as a driver’s hazard, but when the water is released, even though it would be clear, is still very high in pH and would run into the stormwater. 
No crane or manitou, just plastic, some shovels, a wheelbarrow and a pile of concrete and couple of young blokes, hopefully no bad backs, and off we go. Not sure what they will be doing with the water? 

Next post, the problem with plastic washout bags.  

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Concrete is a major part of construction all over the world, and as time has gone on, innovation in the construction industry has dramatically changed the way we build, while the basis of concrete has not changed dramatically, the way we pour concrete has.

Over the years with this innovation, regulation changes have had to keep up as new construction methodologies adapt. New cost structures to include new safety rules, the use of larger machinery, environmental concerns, and sustainability becoming more prevalent and relevant.

The cost of pouring concrete has also changed as men pushing wheelbarrows were replaced with machines.

Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge

One of the major problems to be addressed in today’s concrete pouring is, where and how to wash that magic machine “the concrete Pump”. Those workers back in the 1930’s only had to wash their hands and a large wheelbarrow, however, todays many costs associated with pouring concrete are varied, with many hidden and un-costed, like fines from water runoff into drains or the hazard of slipping on concrete slurry, overweight skip bins with concrete wrapped in plastic, crane time and labour costs, which all add up. 

Different construction sites and builders use different methods for dealing with these problems, but many builders overlook the hidden costs, which means, they haven’t been addressed or calculated properly as the concrete pouring is still sometimes seen as a procedure still done like it was in the 1930’s and still with the “she’ll be right mate” attitude. 

Over the next short period we will show different methods of cleaning the concrete pump used in today’s construction industry, outlining the problems from feedback given to us by different builders. 

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