Building a Better Future
How to Nail Construction & Demolition Waste Recycling
Whether it’s a small residential remodel or a large multi-use commercial development project, they all have the potential to generate a lot of waste. According to CalRecycle, construction and demolition (C&D) waste currently makes up an estimated 21-25% of waste generated in California, which leaves ample room for improvement.
Recycling and diverting C&D waste consists of separating recyclable materials from non-recyclable trash that is landfilled, and ideally separating recyclable materials into categories such as metal, cardboard, concrete, carpet, clean wood, etc. Keeping materials separate allows you to recycle them at a reduced cost, and some free of charge. This will reduce the waste load so you pay less at the landfill, and reduce overall project costs.
Besides saving money, recycling C&D waste helps meet local permit and state-mandated requirements for diversion of waste from landfills. For example, the City of Salinas and California Green Building Standards Code (CalGreen) require a minimum of 65% diversion of materials generated from C&D projects. Compliance requires submitting proof of recycling/diversion of C&D with receipts for recycling and disposal.
Local agencies such as Salinas Valley Recycles, and city-franchised waste haulers like Republic Services, Tri-Cities Disposal and Waste Management, Inc. help project managers develop and implement plans to manage the scrap-materials generated from C&D projects through recycling and source separation. Having a plan going into a project can save a great deal of time and effort in meeting regulations, and maximize savings by minimizing waste (imagine sorting a scrap pile at the end of a project versus starting with sorting).
Salvage is the removal of select materials from a building prior to demolition. These materials usually include higher-value building elements such as architectural features, cabinets, windows, doors (non-hollow core), and wood flooring.
Deconstruction is the removal of materials included in the description of salvage above, plus most or all dimensional lumber, lower-value doors, siding, and windows. Materials are removed in the opposite order in which they were installed, with a goal of maximizing reuse.
Recycling is the collection and processing of materials, which are then used as raw materials for the manufacture of new products. The conventional demolition process usually renders building materials useless for salvage and even makes recycling difficult, due to contamination and mixing of materials. Separating your recyclable materials from unusable trash reduces waste disposal costs.
The maximum environmental impact and cost savings can result from deconstruction and salvage at the worksite, it’s important to educate all contractors, sub-contractors, and employees about managing the C&D debris on the project site, and inform them of all diversion goals. Organize each site to accommodate salvage and recycling of C&D debris, including separation at the source to maximize recycling of what can’t be salvaged. Recyclable materials include concrete, wood, asphalt, rock/gravel, dirt/sand, fiberglass insulation, cardboard, crates/pallets, appliances, metal, toilets, rebar, sheetrock, carpet, and more.
Implement a C&D recycling plan for your next project to meet state and local requirements, build a better future for the Salinas Valley, and save.
Jenny Mitchell | Recycling Coordinator