Sustainable Management of Construction and Demolition Materials

The sustainable management of construction and demolition materials refers to the practices employed to reuse, recycle, or dispose of these materials in an environmentally responsible manner.

Construction and Demolition (C&D) materials are the waste that is created during the construction, renovation, and demolition of buildings, roads, and bridges. The EPA encourages a Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) approach which sees some C&D materials as commodities that can be used in new building projects instead of using virgin materials that would need to be mined and processed. Let’s know more about it before you look for “Electronic waste removal”.

What Are C&D Materials?

C&D materials are generated when new buildings and civil-engineering structures are constructed and when existing buildings and civil-engineering structures are renovated or demolished (including deconstruction activities). Civil-engineering structures include public works projects, such as streets and highways, bridges, utility plants, piers, and dams.

C&D materials often contain large, heavy materials such as:

  • Concrete
  • Wood (from buildings)
  • Asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles)
  • Gypsum (the main component of drywall)
  • Metals
  • Bricks
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Salvaged building components (doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures)
  • Trees, stumps, earth, and rock from clearing sites

Benefits of Reducing the Disposal of C&D Materials

Reducing the amount of C&D materials disposed of in landfills or incinerators can help protect the environment.

  • This will help to create jobs and support the local economy through recycling industries, as well as increase business opportunities when deconstruction and selective demolition methods are used.
  • The PA’s 2016 Recycling Economic Information (REI) Report showed that in 2012, recycling C&D materials created 175,000 jobs.
  • You can reduce the overall cost of your building project by avoiding purchase and disposal costs, and by donating recovered materials to qualified 501(c)(3) charities. This will also provide you with a tax benefit. Onsite reuse will also reduce transportation costs.
  • This could lead to fewer disposal facilities, which would in turn reduce the environmental issues associated with them.
  • The environmental impact of extracting and consuming virgin resources and producing new materials can be offset.
  • Save landfill space.

What You Can Do: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rebuy C&D Materials?

Besides looking for construction debris removal, you can help reduce the amount of C&D materials that are disposed of by practicing source reduction, salvaging, recycling and reusing existing materials, and buying used and recycled materials and products. The following sections provide more information about:

  • You can reduce the amount of waste generated from your project by using fewer materials.
  • What is deconstruction and what construction and demolition materials can be reused during deconstruction?
  • C&D materials can be recycled by finding a recycler who can recycle them for you.
  • You can achieve economic, aesthetic, and environmental benefits by buying used and recycled products.

Recycling C&D Materials

There are many ways to recycle building components. Asphalt, concrete, and rubble can be recycled into aggregate or new asphalt and concrete products. Wood can be recycled into engineered-wood products like furniture, as well as mulch, compost, and other products. Different metals such as steel, copper, and brass can be recycled and are valuable commodities. Although cardboard packaging from home-building sites is not classified as a C&D material, it does end up in the mixed C&D stream. There are many markets that recycle this material.

If you’re unsure about how your recyclables are being managed, you can always ask your recycling company a few questions. This way, you can be sure that your materials are being properly taken care of in compliance with state and local regulations, state licensing or registration, and/or third-party certification.

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