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Construction and demolition waste, commonly referred to as C&D waste, is produced during the process of building, renovating, or demolishing large structures.  The most common C&D materials include concrete, wood, metal, bricks, roofing, flooring, drywall, plate glass, plastics, land clearing debris, and interior components (doors, cabinetry, tiles, etc.).

According to the U.S. EPA, C&D waste generation is more than twice that of municipal solid waste and represents nearly 70% of the overall solid waste stream by weight.*  Tight project timelines and the lack diversion mandates contribute to this high rate of disposal.  As such, there are huge opportunities for reduction and diversion through recycling and reuse.

Deconstruction and salvaging offer sustainable and cost competitive alternatives to traditional C&D disposal.  As opposed to demolition, deconstruction is the process of methodically dismantling a structure in order to reuse or recycle as many materials as possible.  Salvaging entails protecting and saving certain valuable materials during demolition.  It is a faster process than dismantling, but material yields are comparatively lower.

Deconstruction, salvaging, and C&D recycling offer the following benefits:

  • additional revenue from the sale of recovered materials;

  • C&D disposal cost savings;

  • energy and resource savings when using recovered materials over virgin inputs;

  • supporting the local economy; and

  • creating green jobs.

The process for recycling C&D waste varies by material.  Commonly reused C&D materials include bricks, wood, building components and furnishings.  Commonly recycled C&D materials include metals, gypsum, shingles, carpet, and wood.

As green building certification programs like LEED continue to grow in popularity, we hope to see an increase in C&D waste diversion practices.  Even now, new construction and renovation project managers are placing more emphasis on the life cycle analysis, recoverability, health implications, and sustainability of building inputs.

All projects resulting in C&D waste must follow relevant EPA, state and local regulations. In Indiana, there are a handful of landfills that are permitted to accept C&D waste which can be found here.

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