construction and demolition recycling

Image courtesy of recyclepower.org

With a recycling bin adjacent to a regular trash would people tend to recycle more? If an eco-friendly system is established in a community, it’s that much easier for people to get involved. And, as more folks join the boat of sustainable living the popularity of green practices moves forward. That includes how we design, construct, and destruct our homes, towns, and cities. In other words, construction and demolition (C&D) practices.

Growth of C&D

In 2005, only 2 percent of all nonresidential building starts were green. The percentage shot up to 41, in 2012. Now, an estimated 40 to 48 percent of new nonresidential construction projects will be green in 2015—which equates to a $120 to $145 billion opportunity, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Not only does the evolution of green construction and demolition impact natural resources, landfills, and waterways: It’s also altering the U.S. market economy.

C&D: Millions of Tons

In the U.S., 325 million tons of construction and demolition waste materials are recovered annually via the oversight of the Construction and Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA), an organization that promotes the process and which General Kinematics actively supports and participates in. And, what do those materials include? Aggregates mostly—which span from concrete or asphalt, to asphalt shingles, wood, metals, and gypsum wallboard.

C&D Recycling Best Practices

Various recycling facilities cater to precise C&D materials. However, regardless of the specific waste of a site, there are particular practices that will help a site increase its recycling success.

Case in point: The UK is takes things a step further with its Zero Waste to Landfill initiative which outlines 13 commitments the UK has made to work toward a zero waste economy.

Here in the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to raise the bar of the federal waste requirements. For 2015, the EPA is seeking to divert 75 percent of C&D materials and debris, a percentage that surpasses the amount established by the Executive Order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” which instates a 50 percent diversion by the 2015 fiscal year.

To achieve their goal, the EPA uses a systematic approach. Here’s a similar checklist, which you can follow, too:

Conduct regular assessments for waste reduction and pollution prevention: Assessments help to establish short and long term approaches and allow best practices to be communicated across offices and sites

Include waste diversion requirements in lease and contract language: Establish (or choose) one language for the entire agency to follow and use it as a guide throughout construction

Create brainstorming programs and provide technical help: Open the conversation to the members of the agency. Ask what suggestions they have to improve waste reduction. Implement an incentive or competition to encourage recycling. And, let members know where to go if they need any technical guidance.

General Kinematics commends the best C&D practices and designs and engineers vibratory recycling equipment that assists sustainable construction. For more information, visit www.generalkinematics.com.

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  • Amy Donahue

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