Construction and demolition waste recycling is a big industry. The amount of C&D waste generated in the U.S. in 2012 was estimated at 480 million tons, according to a 2014 CDRA executive summary and is steadily growing as the years progress.

C&D materials are seen as one of the largest components of the solid waste stream in the U.S., according to the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA).

The direct annual revenue of the C&D recycling industry is estimated at approximately $7.4 billion. When considering indirect and induced economic output, the amount hikes up to more than $17 billion. Furthermore, beyond the prevention of adding waste to landfills, C&D material recycling also generates jobs and helps to lower the overall net emission of greenhouse gases.

What does C&D waste recycling look like in the U.S.?

According to the CDRA summary, approximately 100 million tons of waste is comprised of mixed C&D with another 310 million tons made up of bulk aggregate—which is, for the most part, concrete. Lastly, an additional 70 million tons is reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP).

“Over 70% of this waste stream was projected as being recovered and put to beneficial use by the C&D recycling industry (corresponding to a 35% recycling rate for mixed C&D, an 85% recycling rate for bulk aggregate, and an over 99% recycling rate for RAP),” the report outlined.

The amount of landfill space saved by recycling these C&D materials is equivalent to more than 4,300 acres at a waste depth of 50 feet!

A Closer Look: Wood Waste

Looking a little deeper into recyclable building materials, more than 45 different goods are easily recovered, reused and recycled. These materials range from antiques to architectural metal, according to a recently updated C&D report that was released by the nonprofit Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Builders Guide to Reuse and Recycling.

Of those materials, Wood waste is the second largest component of C&D debris after concrete. It contributes between 20 and 30 percent of the recyclable building-related C&D waste total, according to reporter Rick LeBlanc.

Typically, when wood waste heads to recycling facilities, it’s delivered on site. The equipment and machines at the recycling facilities—such as those designed by GK—have the ability to convey and sort through various materials. This means wood can actually be mixed into the debris that’s being sifted through, ground down and screened.

When wood isn’t recycled in a brick and mortar recycling facility, it can also be brought back to life through direct recovery and reuse!

“Recovered wood is increasingly coveted by architects and homeowners. Unlike other recycled materials, recovered lumber often sells at a premium to new material, due to the labor involved in deconstruction and further processing to remove old nails or to re-machine….markets for recycled wood include landscaping mulch, bedding material, boiler fuel, as well as fiber for composite board products, including Presswood pallets, and pellets,” wrote LeBlanc.

Another option for the independent recycler: pick up a ratty piece of wood furniture or an old wood fixture from a thrift store or estate sale. Create your first DIY piece by sanding it all the way down and then priming and painting it. Now, you’ve successfully played your part in a branch of the C&D mission!

If you’d like to learn more about C&D waste recycling and how General Kinematics is directly involved in these processes, contact GK today!

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