Concrete Masonry Units (CMU) are the formal name of the commonly known versions as concrete brick, concrete block, cement block, besser block, breeze block and cinder block.

concrete masonry unit

The nick names for Concrete Masonry Units are acquired because of the components used to create these blocks. Depending on the geographic location and the available reusable materials depends on the type of aggregate used. Generally, however, the blocks provide a firm, flat, stackable building block for construction of various structures.

What are Concrete Masonry Units Made of?

CMU are made from cast concrete, such as Portland cement and aggregate, usually sand and fine gravel for high-density blocks. Lower density blocks may use industrial wastes as an aggregate. Lightweight blocks can also be produced using aerated concrete. Sometime the component is ash or cinder there being called cinder blocks or breeze block (breeze as another name for ash.) These blocks typically weigh between 25 and 45 pounds each depending on size and composite. The standard or nominal size of a CMU in inches is 16L x 8H x 8W. They are typically hollow by way of two to four gaps in the center and can be beveled or flat on the ends. Steel can be added into the openings to provide greater strength to the structure.

Can you recycle Concrete Masonry Units?

In my searching, I have found it is difficult and not cost effective enough to recycle CMU. The more common plan is to reuse them. Because the blocks are made from unknown composite, recycling into other concrete material can create an inconsistent, unreliable product; therefore, it is undesirable for buildings or roadwork. Often the best case is to crush the block and “reuse” the material for landscaping filler.

Western Disposal Services, in Albuquerque, NM, and other disposal companies around the country offer recycling programs to customers in order to provide options to decrease your environmental footprint. At this time, there is often a charge for recycling but the charge is still less than standard landfill dump fees.

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