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During the construction, renovation, and demolition of homes, commercial buildings, bridges, highways and other public works projects, large quantities of waste material are created.  C&D materials may include wood, concrete, glass, shingles, wallboard, metal, and paint.  Depending on the type of demolition, materials like tree stumps and rocks may also be generated.

Recycling and reducing the amount of C&D materials conserve natural resources, reduce landfill waste, lower expenses for new building projects, create jobs, and limit water and air pollution.  Over 100 million tons of C&D waste can be generated within a year.


Concrete, asphalt, metal, and wood are the most commonly recycled materials from construction and demolition.  Though many C&D companies choose the low cost of landfill disposal, there are many uses for the recycled or reused material from C&D sites.

Asphalt & Concrete: These wastes can be crushed and then used as a road-base gravel or as an aggregate in new asphalt or concrete.

Wood:  Wood waste can potentially be reused or chipped and used in mulch, compost, or animal bedding.  Chipped wood could also be used as a bulking agent or be burnt and used as fuel.

Metal: Metal is the most valued C&D material and highest recycling rate.  Steel is especially valued and can be recycled for use in appliances, bridges, vehicles, desks, and other common items.

Shingles:  Asphalt shingles, which make up the majority of residential roofs, can be recycled into a hot mix for paving or into new roofing materials.


Recycling C&D waste is only part of practicing responsible construction and demolition management.  Deconstruction is an alternative method to demolition, involving a more selective process for dismantling and removing materials from a building.

Even when complete deconstruction is not feasible, selective removal of recyclable materials from the building prior to demolition would decrease the amount of waste produced.  Plumbing and electrical fixtures, wood flooring, doors, windows, and various metals could be removed and used for new construction.

The amount of time involved in deconstruction is often the biggest deterrent.  C&D companies should consider the market value of potential recyclable materials when considering deconstruction


Builders can practice responsible waste management proactively, in addition to recycling any produced C&D waste.

When choosing a builder, inquire about their waste management practices.  Current builders can also consult other existing builders about successful C&D waste practices.

Use durable, quality materials to ensure the long-life of a structure.

When building, talk with your architect about long-term goals for the structure, in order to create an adaptable, long-lasting design.

Be willing to purchase salvaged or recycled materials for various building or renovation projects.

During a project, make space for the storage of recyclable or reusable materials.

When remodeling, consider reusing old cabinets or other intact structures in a different part of the house for additional storage or organization.

Donate useable items such as carpet, fixtures, doors, locks, and knobs to a multi-residential unit or apartment complex. Landlords can often use these for general repairs.

Consider taking waste to a commingled center recycling. Instead of separating and organizing materials onsite, workers simply gather the material in one place and transport it to be separated elsewhere.

Other General Info - Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling

- Much of the waste stream in the U.S. is made up of construction and demolition waste

- Most C&D waste ends up in landfills, despite the fact that a huge portion of these types of debris are reusable or recyclable.

- C&D waste is made up of the materials used or created in the process of construction, renovation or demolition of structures ( residential or commercial buildings, roads, bridges, etc)

-C&D debris is usually non-hazardous

- This type of waste is a serious issue in the United States due to the volume of debris that ends up in solid waste landfills, creating the potential for ground water contamination

- Every year less land becomes available for the disposal of solid waste

- Choosing to recycle C&D waste can help save natural resources

- The most common waste materials that are potentially recyclable by construction companies and builders include wood, paint, carpet, plastic and metal, among other items

- Demolition contractors or construction companies can help in recycling these types of items, using any of the following three methods:

1) Mixed Material Collection (recyclable items are moved from the demolition or construction site and sorted at the appropriate facility. They are then sent to be processed and recycled. 

2) Source Separation (items are separated into categories at the job site and then send to processors to be recycled. These categories can include wood, metal, plastic, etc)

3) On-Site Processing (items are processed at the job site and are immediately prepared for reuse)

- The recycled materials that come from building and demolition sites have many different uses, including reuse for building, fuel sources, mulch, etc.

- Not only is C&D recycling highly beneficial for the environment, but it can also help to save a
 company money. This type of recycling can decrease many costs during a specific job, such as disposal costs,construction materials costs, transportation costs, labor costs (since less materials are being handled), and the cost of needing new materials for landscaping.

Building Green from the Start

-  Builders can do more than make sure that the waste at their job sites is recycled. They can ensure that each project is built to be green!

-  Constructing as well as operating any kind of building requires the use of energy and materials. This leads to large amounts of waste

-  How these buildings are built can greatly affect the ecosystems on earth in many ways

-  More and more builders are choosing to “build green” as the impact of new construction takes its toll on the environment

- Sustainable building means implementing more resource-efficient ways of construction, renovation, operation and demolition

-  Green building can be accomplished in many ways. Some examples include:

            1) Building with materials that have a less negative effect on the environment (recycled material, biodegradable material, durable material, non toxic material)

            2) Reducing waste during construction, demolition or remodeling

            3) Designing buildings that are healthy for the occupants and use energy more efficiently


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