Construction sites generate large amounts of waste material. Typically, contractors end up paying to have this construction debris hauled away and dumped. However, by reusing, recycling, or reselling materials you might typically discard, you can add to your company’s bottom line.
When your firm recycles construction and demolition materials, it can:
• Reduce the costs that typically come with hiring a haulage company to remove and dispose of work site scrap materials, such as metal, concrete, wood, gypsum drywall, and asphalt shingles.
• Minimize the burden on local landfills and help reduce the environmental impact that results from creating new construction materials.
• Attain points toward the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED certification points may be earned for using recycled materials (or those with recycled content).
• A 2014 white paper prepared for the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association estimates that the annual revenue generated by the construction and demolition materials recycling industry was approximately $7.4 billion.
Start by contacting your local builders association, your county solid waste department, or your state environmental agency. They can provide contact information for licensed recyclers in your area and explain what is recyclable and what is not. For example, recycled aggregates can be used as road base, as general fill for drainage, and for soil stabilization. Recycled asphalt shingles can be used as aggregate for new asphalt hot mixes and for dust suppression mixes. Drywall scraps can even be ground up for use on site as a soil amendment.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s website, www3.epa.gov, provides information on ways to reduce and recycle construction and demolition materials. The C&D Waste Reduction and Recycling Series fact sheets, produced by EPA Region Nine, offer helpful advice and information for contractors who are looking into starting their own recycling efforts.
In addition, The National Association of Home Builders Research Center has prepared A Field Guide for Residential Remodelers that provides information on cost-effective and voluntary construction waste management. It addresses the unique aspects of remodeling, including differences in waste generation and site and work characteristics.
Contractors should be aware that some construction and demolition materials may contain hazardous chemicals and other solvents and that these require specific handling. Your state environmental agency can provide guidance on this issue.
Recycling, reusing, and selling construction waste materials can improve your company’s bottom line.