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In a healthy economy, construction waste makes up one-third of all refuse. At this scale, even small efforts towards recycling and reusing leftover building material or debris make a big change. Construction waste consists mostly of concrete, wood, drywall, shingles, asphalt and metal, but also cardboard and plastic from packaging. Although considered waste, many of these materials are valuable commodities that can be recycled to make new products or used in many ways. In short, recycling benefits both a construction business and the environment.
Planning before building
As a large part of building waste can be recycled or reused, its removal needs preparation from the very beginning. Along with other construction plans, make one for waste collection, disposal and recycling. Mark a place on the site where workers can dispose of debris and material leftovers. This site mustn’t obstruct the work, nor cause any safety hazards for workers.
Discarded materials and their uses
Each discarded material has its recyclable potential. Bricks, for example, can be reused or crushed to make road bases. Undamaged windows and doors can be refitted to other homes, as well as plumbing fixtures, like tubs. Lumber and wood products can be reused for further construction or converted to mulch or biomass fuel. Metals can be smelted and converted into other products. Vegetation and trees can be replanted if possible or used for biomass fuel.
Building it back
Probably the best and the safest method is to integrate construction waste into a new building or another building site, where applicable. For example, if you are remodelling, you don’t have to demolish the walls, but rather reconfigure or move them. Lumber leftovers from wood-framed structures can be used for fire blocking or as spacers. In addition, use building materials supplied in standard measurements whenever possible. The less you have to cut or remove, the less waste you will create. What is more, standard dimensions let you reuse any leftover materials more easily.
Deconstruction instead demolition
Some laws propose or encourage removing reusable items without damage so they can be reused in housing projects. A contractor who is paying for the removal can even be granted certain tax benefits. If no such project exists, the contractor can organize a front yard sale of items like radiators, grates, piping, fixtures and fittings that are in acceptable condition.
Sorting the waste
In order to process them easier later on, different types of construction waste need to be deposited in separate piles. Concrete, asphalt, bricks and shingles can go together. Window frames and doors can go on the pile for wood and timber leftovers. Plastic, cables and nylons will go in the third, and so on. Separating and sorting materials from the very beginning makes them easier to remove and also lowers the disposal costs.
Local is always cheaper
You can avoid costly transport expenses by browsing local businesses that specialize in construction waste removal. Inquire what each of them offers and select the one that has an efficient recycling programme. To save time and money, ask them to provide containers on the site so you can dispose of materials on the go. Alternatively, you can dispose of waste every time you go out to fetch new building materials. Selecting a reputable waste recycling centre can save you a lot of headaches.
When sorting and separating items in containers, make sure no unwanted materials get inside. If any amount of rubbish is placed with the sorted waste, the entire load is considered unacceptable for recycling. Make sure the bins and containers have clear labels for different types of waste.
There are many ways to reuse construction waste, so make sure it doesn’t simply end on the landfill. By recycling materials or integrating them into further construction, you won’t only reduce the amount of waste produced by the site, but also make savings through different municipal projects or by selling reusable items.
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