“Each day, thousands of tons of construction and demolition (C&D) materials throughout the Washington metropolitan area are disposed of at landfills,” according to the nonprofit Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) in its most recent C&D report, Builders Guide to Reuse and Recycling, first published in 2006 and updated in July 2015.
“Yet, there are more than 45 different materials that are easily recovered for reuse or recycling – from antiques and architectural salvage to metal, concrete, asphalt, bricks, and gravel,” states the report. Comprised of 300 elected officials, the COG includes representatives from 22 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures and U.S. Congress.
Well researched and progressive, this C&D guideline addresses issues that reside in Washington D.C., suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia, to assist the area’s dense populations (660,000 residents in D.C. alone, and some 5.7 and 2.6 million in Maryland and Northern Virginia). Though focused on the greater Washington regions, the guideline assuredly speaks to country-wide issues and paves the path for C&D recycling growth that’s on the horizon.
One great incentive for C&D companies to recycle materials versus throwing them in the landfill is money. When a load of mixed C&D waste is thrown into a landfill, the cost is about $200-$250 per ton. However, when concrete, asphalt, bricks, rubble, or a mixture of C&D waste is recycled, each of those categories of material costs less to recycle than it costs to throw away in the landfill, outlines the COG report.
More and more jurisdictions are beginning to require or incentivize green construction, offering breaks such as tax credits for LEED certified buildings. To that point, the Green Construction Code in D.C. mandates that a minimum of half of construction waste is recycled or salvaged.
Likewise, California’s CALGreen Green Building Code includes a C&D Waste Diversion Ordinance, requiring builders and owners to divert 50 percent of the waste from projects. Exemptions exist and greater specifications are arranged by each jurisdiction.
Overall, builders can take three different avenues to meet the requirement:
C&D materials comprise 40 percent of all raw materials used in the U.S., each year, states the report. (Yikes!) Another analysis found that the amount of C&D material generated by the U.S. in 2012 was about 480 million tons, according to a 2014 publication commissioned by the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA). This publication reported that more than 70 percent of those 480 million tons were projected to be recovered, reducing landfill growth by a depth of 50 feet.
Saving recoverable C&D materials can help to preserve landfill space that’s ever-more-difficult to find, leaving that space for items that cannot be recycled or reused. Furthermore, C&D recycling not only saves money, but also helps to reduce deforestation, mining, fuel consumption and emissions. For more information on C&D recycling and the equipment needed to complete the process contact General Kinematics!