Earlier this month, we highlighted the importance of reducing job site waste, and one of the most effective ways to do so is by recycling building materials from construction projects. According to The Construction Materials and Recycling Association (CMRA), approximately 350 tons of construction and demolition debris is generated and disposed of in the United States each year. What does this shocking statistic mean to building professionals and the greater sustainability movement? Aside from the obvious detrimental effects on the environment, construction waste disposal leads to the loss of useful property, resources and energy. To make matters worse, this cycle repeats itself as new building materials are produced, causing greater environmental stress. By implementing job site recycling programs, builders have the ability to slow the rate of construction waste generation.
Not sure where to start? Though the thought of recycling building materials may be a daunting for some, fortunately there are several associations and organizations in place to help builders and manufacturers recycle their unwanted (yet salvageable) materials. Following are three reputable organizations currently advocating for job site recycling while providing the resources to help us do so.
· Construction Materials and Recycling Association (CMRA) – The mission of the CMRA is to provide positive support and representation to the building industry in all matters impacting the recycling business. This non-profit organization acts as an advocate to promote construction recycling and to serve as a liaison between its members and legislators as well as member recycling companies and agencies. As a member, you’re able to interact with groups that touch the recycling at every stage in the process from waste generators, haulers and even end users of recycled products. With the CMRA, you have access to an unlimited network of groups whose end-recycling goal mirrors your own.
· Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) – The WBDG’s Construction Waste Management Database (http://www.wbdg.org/tools/cwm.php) is a national, online network of companies that haul, collect and process recyclable building materials from construction sites. This database allows free and unlimited online searches for construction recycling companies by state, zip code and even down to the materials you would like to be recycled. In addition, the site offers a construction waste management resource page with best practices and considerations for implementing your own effective construction recycling program.
· The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) – The BMRA is another non-profit whose goal is to facilitate the reuse of recycled building materials in a manner that is financially and sustainably sound. The organization firmly believes that through recycling and reusing building materials, not only will we benefit the environment but stimulate the economy through new markets and job creation.
We put these tools to the test, in search of organizations across the country doing innovative work in recycling. Here’s what we found:
· Evergreen Recycling is a full service recycling company based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, whose services include construction waste planning, post construction recycling for new and existing buildings and recycling management plans to fit your needs. An innovative feature of the company is its roll off bin service for all recyclable materials. No need to sort and separate building materials on site, Evergreen Recycling does the work for you and processes everything from concrete to carpeting. For more information visit http://evergreenlv.com/ContactUs.asp
· We’re all aware of the tremendous work Habitat for Humanity has done to provide shelter for countless deserving individuals over the years, but the organization also contributes to our recycling efforts through the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Network. Organizations are encouraged to donate recycled building materials that are then sold to the public at a fraction of the price. Through their efforts, ReStores keep reusable materials out of landfills and into the construction of Habitat homes. To find a Habitat ReStore in your area visit http://www.habitat.org/env/restores.aspx.
· The Loading Dock in Baltimore, MD is an example of an organization using recycled materials not only to benefit the environment, but the community as a whole. The company obtains usable building materials from contractors, retailers, manufacturers, and even directly from landfills. Through its efforts, The Loading Dock has been able to rehabilitate low-income housing in Baltimore City using materials that would otherwise be thrown away. Visit http://www.loadingdock.org/stock/feature/index.html for a glimpse at some of the items available at The Loading Dock.
Based on our findings, we at Build Intel see great opportunity in recycling for builders and manufacturers alike. As the green building movement continues to grow, so does the need for better recycling practices. For example, under the LEED program, projects earn construction waste points by developing a waste management plan, establishing quantifiable recycling goals. With LEED standards and other building certification programs as a top priority among the industry, building professionals must implement and live up to their recycling claims. With the desire to be green, recycling is sure to follow.