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Is Construction Debris Recycling A Good Option?

Posted by Junk King on Aug 12, 2016 7:24:40 AM


It used to be that general contractors could just haul off all their construction debris and dump it either in a landfill, or in some empty lot. Those days are long gone, however.

With all of the local, state and federal regulations now in force, improved C & D waste best practices, and the numerous benefits of construction debris recycling and reuse of many materials, it is far better to treat the landfill as a last option.

And considering that as a contractor you are also a business person, it is also critical that decisions around the cleaning, hauling, and disposing of their construction and demolition (C&D) waste be viewed as financial business decisions.

Construction Debris Recycling and Your ROI

This is not news to anyone in the construction industry, but all construction work generates debris. Whether it is new construction, remodel, or demolition it is a fundamental reality that construction projects create a great deal of waste. 

While commercial construction obviously generates larger volumes of construction garbage, residential construction can produce surprisingly large quantities of trash, as well.

Consider these facts regarding construction and debris:

  • New construction projects average 3.9 pounds of waste per square foot of building area. For example: almost 98 tons of waste is produced from building a 50,000 square foot building.
  • Building demolitions average 155 pounds of waste per square foot. That means that 3,875 tons of waste is produced during the demolition of a 50,000 square foot building.
  • Not all construction waste goes into landfills, since many items are salvageable. In fact, there are more than 200 used building material stores in the United States alone that take recovered items as donations.
  • Many reusable items from demolition projects can often be used in some renovation projects such as plumbing fixtures, ceiling and floor tiles, doors, cabinets, decorative items, light fixtures, carpeting, stonework, bricks, and even sheet rock.

The actual amounts of debris and the percentages of usable waste varies with every job, of course. But the reality is that regardless of the type of job their will always be a lot of debris and waste material to be handled. The question, then, is how to best handle it.

Construction Debris Recycling and Reuse MattersFree Construction Debris Removal Guide

Every contractor knows that probably the easiest way to deal with construction site waste and debris is to simply haul it off and dump it somewhere. Preferably in a landfill, of course, but dumping it is still considered by many contractors as the most straightforward approach to consider.

But is it the only - or best - approach?

Another option for GCs and construction site managers is to reuse as much of the waste material as possible. Whether the contractor resuses it, or it is processed to be used elsewhere, repurposing construction debris can be highly practical.

The benefits of recycling have been made abundantly clear for a number of years now. But the idea that construction waste can be recycled or reused is still a somewhat novel one to many contractors. According to the state of California’s CalRecycle website:

Reuse and recycling of C&D materials is one component of a larger holistic practice called sustainable or green building construction. The efficient use of resources is a fundamental tenet of green building construction. This means reducing, reusing, and recycling most if not all materials that remain after a construction or renovation project. Green building construction practices can include salvaging dimensional lumber from the project, using aggregates reclaimed from crushed concrete, or grinding drywall scraps for use on site as a soil amendment.

At the end of a building’s life, demolition generates large amounts of materials that can be reused or recycled, principally wood, concrete and other types of masonry, and drywall. Rather than demolish an entire building, consider “deconstructing” all or part of the structure.

Deconstruction is the orderly dismantling building components for reuse or recycling. In contrast to demolition, where buildings are knocked down and materials are either landfilled or recycled, deconstruction involves carefully taking apart portions of buildings or removing their contents with the primary goal being reuse. It can be as simple as stripping out cabinetry, fixtures, and windows, or as involved as manually taking apart the building frame.

The bottom line for construction professionals is that it pays to recycle wherever and whatever they can. The good news is that many municipalities and private firms have developed the means and resources to make this option not only viable, but relatively easy and profitable for everyone involved

How Much of Your Construction Debris Can Be Recycled?

Even seasoned contractors are often surprised at the sheer volume of waste and debris generated at their job sites. Especially if it is being cleaned and hauled off periodically throughout the course of a project. But seeing the actual amounts in terms of percentage of materials retained and used can often highlight the importance of reclaiming as much of that material as possible.

Here is a great view of the numbers around construction waste:


Knowing When to Outsource Is the Mark of a Professional

Even though you may be a construction pro, you might still find it difficult to get rid of the debris left over after the job is complete. Whether you are doing demolition, remodeling, or construction, there is always the time sensitive and costly process of getting rid of leftover debris.

For example, concrete, wood, steel, tiling and drywall all can be extremely difficult to haul off of a construction site.

There is more to proper construction garbage removal than simply throwing stuff into the back of a truck. Knowing what can be disposed of legally and where constitutes a large part of what makes a professional firm the better choice.

And, as already noted, simply taking everything to the local landfill – assuming there is one – is not always the most cost-effective means of disposal. Recycling and re-purposing many items and materials is a responsible approach for a business to take.

Your Construction Debris Recycling Should Be Handled By Professionals

Trash hauling and site clean-up is usually considered to be “part of the job” for contractors, but it really doesn’t have to! When you consider that every hour your crew spends picking up debris, cleaning the site, and hauling and disposing of the material, is an hour NOT spent generating revenue on a project. And the bigger the job, the more the opportunity costs add up.

Add to that the possible costs of hazardous material disposal and even required training for your employees, the benefits of outsourcing these tasks become more attractive.

Do you have a current or upcoming project that will need construction trash clean-up and removal? If so, call Junk King! Our team specializes in construction trash removal. We can be at your facility in mere minutes, so call us today! Our crew is fully insured and well-trained, so you can trust them to get rid of your unwanted items in a professional and courteous fashion.

And one of the best things about hiring Junk King is that we recycle a much of the material we pick-up. This is proof of our commitment to being an eco-friendly removal service. If you have questions about what we do or what we believe, give us a call at (707) 744-4254.

Free Construction Debris Removal Guide

Topics: junk hauling, Hazardous Waste, outsourcing construction waste hauling, construction debris, construction recycling, construction waste removal, concrete removal

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