In my last post, I talked about incorporating recycling bins to summer construction and redesign projects. If you start talking about recycling bins in the building after the construction project is completed, you are likely going to get involved in planning about recycling the during the renovation.
If you have never worked with this waste stream before, be aware that it can be very different than routine wastes. The general industry term for this type of waste is C&D (construction and demolition) waste. At many institutions, this often waste comes more from renovation projects than from new building construction or the demolition of old buildings. As such, I am going to expand the term to C&D&R.
There are entire trade groups and conferences dedicated to the recovery and recycling of C&D&R wastes, so I won’t presume to try to cover all of that in one blog post. But for those of you who are new to C&D&R projects, I wanted to give you a few highlights to help get you started:
Understand the logistics and pricing of roll-off hauling
• For most C&D&R projects you are not picking up materials in dumpsters or semi-automated carts. This is big bulky stuff. You are likely going to be hauling that away in roll-off boxes.
• Roll-offs range in size from 10 yards – 40 yards, and are typically sized in 10 yard increments (10, 20, 30, 40).
• Roll-off boxes are typically dropped at your job site. When they need to be picked up, a truck backs up to your job site and hoists then entire roll-off onto the truck.
• A roll-off typically goes directly from your facility to a destination facility. Assuming that destination facility has a scale, this makes is easy to get an exact weight for the materials collected at your job site.
• The pricing for roll-off’s typically has 3 prices: There is the cost to leave the box with you (usually a flat fee), the cost to haul the full box to the destination site (varies depending on how far away), and a price per ton for whatever was hauled away in the box (varies depending on what it is).
• If you can separate out full-roll-off loads of a specific material (e.g. concrete) the price per ton will typically be lower than mixed C&D&R loads. Keep in mind though that the net cost will depend on the distance being hauled and whether or not any extra pickups are required.
One of the main keys to successfully tackling C&D&R projects is to recognize the distinct phases of each project. Each one of those phases has a distinct waste generated during that phase. Even if you can’t separate full roll-off loads of material being able to separate your project, being able to separate out the waste from each phase of the project may help to reduce your cost and/or ensure that your materials are being more effectively recycled.
The salvage phase: this is essentially the phase in which crews go through a building or site and look to salvage materials that can be reused in other projects. In the simplest version of this phase, are there items (e.g. HVAC equipment) that could be reused in other similar operations on campus? You may also want to look into “deep salvage” deconstruction options that are increasingly becoming available in some areas. These deep salvage operations look to recover a much wider range of building materials (doors, tile, trim, dimensional lumber, pipes, etc.) for reuse. Often they are tied to a building materials reuse store (think along the lines of a Salvation Army thrift store only for building materials) or to a charity organization that reuses the building supplies to make low-income housing.
The Demolition phase: This has become a little more sophisticated than the wrecking ball demolition jobs you used to see. Just keep in mind that when it comes to the waste side of things, the more you can keep each part of the demolition project separate (e.g. roofing materials vs. foundation materials), the more viably and cost effectively you can typically recycle those materials. Mixed debris recycling options are available in many areas, but remember that the more mixed your loads are, the more sorting a C&D&R recycler is going to have to do to recover those materials and the more expensive that operation is going to be.
The new construction phase: If you want to reduce waste during this phase, never has the term measure twice, cut once been more applicable. Most of the waste from this phase is trim, edges, and mis-cut pieces and can be greatly reduced by better measuring and planning. If you do have wastes, it may be worth keeping them from other C&D&R wastes. Because they have not yet been painted or treated, there are many items that are more recyclable during this phase than during the demolition phase. Examples are “clean” wood and drywall.
Timing is everything
When it comes to collecting C&D&R wastes, you need to be prepared to work in a tight time frame. While an overall project may last all summer, each phase of the project is often much shorter and may need to have its wastes hauled away before the next phase of the project begins. Each phase may also have a unique subcontractor working on that phase of the project. That may require re-educating construction workers during each phase of the project about how to separate materials for recycling.
Be a little careful about how you promote the “recycling” of your C&D&R wastes
There are some great beneficial uses for C&D&R materials. Just be a little careful about how much you talk about “recycling” them. For example, I have seen a lot of “recycled” wood waste that ultimately ends up used as boiler fuel. I have seen a lot of “fines” (the stuff too small to be recovered by the sorting equipment) used as alternate landfill cover. Are those uses better than just landfilling the material? Probably. Will everyone be comfortable having you call it recycling? Probably not.
Now that winter is finally here in many parts of the country, it is time for a little summertime dreaming. As you think about that warmer weather, hopefully this will help you plan for the C&D&R wastes that the warmer weather will bring.