Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  30 Aug 2009

BUILDING: Afrimat Offers 30% Saving


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CONSTRUCTION materials supplier Afrimat, has been involved in the marketing of crushed rubble in the Cape since the early nineties. Since that time, it has sold a massive 2.5 million tonnes of recycled road building material - and has had a blameless record.

One of its initial projects - the demolition of the Paarden Island power station - involved crushing the material, having it quality assessed and graded accordingly, and then selling it commercially. This not only provided valuable material of good quality for re-use at a very reasonable cost, but avoided, as the only alternative, the cost of carting it away and dumping it at one of the municipal landfill sites. Not to mention the waste of valuable air space that would have entailed.

In all this time, says Hylton Hale, Afrimat’s divisional manager Cape Town, the company had an unblemished record, and the quality and reliability of the material supplied was readily acknowledged. Until, that is, another company totally unconnected with Afrimat, supplied what proved to be sub-standard material used for roadworks at Delft.

The balloon, of course, went up, but instead of simply blaming the offending supplier, in certain influential quarters the whole concept of using crushed rubble was questioned - and our 20 blameless years were simply disregarded,” Hale says.

From then on, engineers at the Cape Town Roads and Stormwater department began rejecting crushed recycled demolition waste in all their tenders, turning a deaf ear to representations from Afrimat and other suppliers of crushed rubble.

This was alright, in one sense, since we also supply aggregate from our quarries, and in many cases those who won tenders from the City got their aggregate from us. But the point is that the use of crushed rubble represents nearly a 30% saving over quarried aggregates - and for many purposes it is entirely acceptable. We have proved this over 20 years.”

For example, says Hale, Afrimat has supplied some of the most prestigious projects in the Cape without the slightest problem. These have included the parking areas and minor roads in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Grand West Casino, Westlake Office Park, Noordhoek Shopping Mall, the Cape Town Convention Centre and Century City amongst others It has also supplied recycled material to a number of minor urban roads in townships throughout the Cape metropolis. With that record, where is the problem?

Afrimat, in fact, were so concerned about the situation - “after all, we live in Cape Town and don’t want to see money wasted” - that they approached the University of Cape Town’s Civil Engineering Department in 2002 to embark on a research programme on the use of recycled aggregates in concrete and road layer works. This was agreed to by Prof. Mark Alexander, head of the department, and a detailed report was compiled, outlining the use and capabilities of crushed rubble. The report demonstrated that the material is a viable option, provided certain criteria such as initial raw material sorting and the exclusion of organic, plastic and other waste is met. These are criteria that Afrimat itself, in its insistence on quality control, has always met.

So where does the matter stand now? The use of crushed rubble is widely accepted by private developers and contractors, through their consulting engineers and, for instance, by the City of Cape Town’s Solid Waste Department. Evidence of this is their recent tender for contractors to crush waste rubble at their landfill sites. Afrimat Cape Town was awarded this contract, and distributes and manufactures crushed concrete base and sub base from the Bellville South, Coastal Park, Gordons Bay and Stellenbosch sites.

Says Hale: “Crushed rubble is here to stay, as it not only provides a more economical solution to road building, but also plays a vital role in combating minimisation of the ever-expanding and valuable air space at our municipal landfill sites.”

Discussions with the City of Cape Town’s Roads and Stormwater Department, however, are still pending. At a time when Cape Premier Helen Zille has called for economy to combat the effects of the recession, Hale sees the cost saving in the use of crushed rubble as a valuable contribution. But will that view prevail?

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