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Beneficial Use Portal. Find out which C&D byproducts can be easily recycled in your state.
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C&D Recycling

Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste accounts for a large part of the waste stream in the United States. While most of this waste accumulates in landfills, experts estimate that 90% of the waste stream is potentially reusable or recyclable. Recycling this waste can help to prolong our supply of natural resources and save money in the process. Common C&D wastes that are recycled include carpet, wood, aggregate, paint, metal, wallboard, and plastic. Other types of C&D recyclable materials are appliances, asphalt, brick, concrete, drywall, fixtures, flooring, gravel, green waste, OCC-cardboard, pallets, paper, pipe, roofing, sand, shingles, and soil.

Three recycling methods available to demolition contractors include the following:

  • Mixed material collection - Recyclable materials are transported from the job site, sorted at a designated facility, and sent to processors for recycling.
  • Source separation - Similar materials are separated from other wastes at the job site by category (such as wood, metal, and concrete) and sent to processors for recycling.
  • On-site processing - Recyclable materials are processed on site and made ready for reuse.

Markets for Recycled Material

There are many options and applications of the recyclable material generated by building sites. These include reuse as building materials, use as an industrial fuel source, mulch in composting operations, animal bedding, and soil amendment. For example, material such as gypsum board (which many landfills are prohibiting from entering) can be ground up and used in many different ways such as recycled content for new drywall.

Cost Benefits

There are numerous cost benefits that are resulting from C&D recycling including: reduced project disposal costs, reduced transportation costs, reduced cost of new construction materials, reduced labor costs (less material being handled), and the elimination of the need for new materials for road base, mulch, and landscaping.

State Resources

Many states have active programs that encourage C&W waste recycling.  CICA Center is in the process of identifying these and will create a C&D recycling state tool.  In the meantime, please visit some of the sites below to see a range of state activities and programs.

  • Vermont.  Each year, waste from new construction, renovation and demolition projects generates over 20 percent of Vermont’s trash. That adds up to 90,000 tons of construction and demolition waste (C&D) which ends up in landfills each year. Additionally, Vermont has some of the highest waste disposal costs in the country. Fees range between $65.00 to over $100.00 per ton and it’s not expected to get any cheaper.  Vermont has created a Construction Waste Reduction web page that describes a range of resources to help prevent and reduce waste during construction, renovation, deconstruction, and demolition and save money in the process.
  • Minnesota. The Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide provides strategies for the diversion of 80% of demolition debris and 75% of construction waste (both by volume) from landfills through salvage, recycling and/or recovery.
  • California: On their C&D recycling page, CA indentifies reuse and recycling of C&D materials is one component of a larger holistic practice called sustainable or green building construction.  Among other resources, there is C&D Debris Recyclers database to search for recycling facilities by material type.

More Resources

Construction and Demolition Materials Guidance. The RecyclingWorks in Massachusetts program has worked with state and local officials, salvage and reuse outlets, contractors, construction & demolition (C&D) processors and haulers, architects, and other stakeholders to develop consensus-based guidance on how to increase C&D materials reuse and recycling.

The State of the Practice of Construction and Demolition Material Recovery (2017). This report summarizes the current state of the practice regarding C&D recovery in the continental the United States, and the economic, community, and material-specific factors that influence the rate of C&D recovery.

Beneficial Use Portal. This web portal is a compact, content-rich resource covering beneficial use of C&D and industrial byproducts.

Recycling Today.  A magazine dedicated to various types of recycling.

National Demolition AssociationThe National Demolition Association is a non-profit trade organization representing more than 1,000 U.S. and Canadian companies which offer standard demolition services, as well as a full range of demolition-related services and products. 

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