Construction Waste Reduction
In a recent Waste Age article, Charles Cox described the results of a program in Des Moines:
Until last October, virtually all the commingled construction and demolition (C&D) waste in Des Moines, Iowa, was being landfilled. But thanks to a $483,000 grant from the state and the financial commitment of two local solid waste businesses, overall diversion rates of C&D waste have gone from 20% to 50%, and are still climbing as the construction season shifts into high gear.
Des Moines built a 23-acre recycling and processing facility, called Central, which includes a C&D landfill, built in 1972. With the grant, Central was able to install a processing line featuring a Re-Tech 723 trommel, which made it possible to process all C&D waste. At Central's facility, where a truck unloads depends on the materials it's carrying. The scale attendant directs each load to the proper unloading or staging area. Mono-loads are unloaded in an area where like materials are stockpiled. Commingled loads are dropped at a designated area before going through a rough sort by hand and then on to the trommel for further sorting. From there a 12-man picking/sorting team sorts recoverable materials and drops them into one of five containers below. Unrecoverable materials go straight to the landfill, a few hundred yards away.
"This is truly a fully integrated C&D recovery project," says Rob Hosier, Central general manager and contract officer for the demonstration project team. "We can take everything now: mono-loads and commingled loads. "With this system," Hosier says, "we are getting the highest C&D diversion possible. Before our project was launched, contractors were taking all their commingled C&D to landfills."
By volume, wood makes up the largest portion of waste for Central, and so far, the facility has diverted more than 1,000 tons of wood per month. If the wood is dimensional, it gets sold or donated. Smaller pieces are recycled by chipping. Reusable lumber is put in a special place. Individuals can buy it, or it's donated to a local nonprofit group, Home Recycling Exchange, an organization that helps the disabled, the elderly, and low-income families with home repairs.
Also in the initial sort, Central pulls out corrugated cardboard that's clean (no contaminants). The cardboard is put into a separate container so it doesn't get run through the system. "We don't bale cardboard," Hosier says. "We put it into a container and take it to the people that actually do the baling."
The commingled waste is put through the trommel. Then pickers pull off wood, concrete, and metal. "That's the nice part about this facility," Hosier says. "Customers just bring their waste to us, drop it on the ground, and go. That's what separates us from other facilities."
The beauty of the system, Hosier says, is its simplicity. "People bring their commingled waste, drop it, and they're ready to go. One fee. They don't have to worry about what I'm going to pay here, what I'm going to pay there. You go in, you drop it, and you go."
The facility is expected to push through 80,000-100,000 tons of material a year.
"But that's not the important issue," Hosier says. "The facility will be
judged not on capacity but on the amount of diversion we achieve, and there's a
In Portland, Oregon, the regional METRO government has charge of all the waste and landfilling in the Portland area. Due in part to increasing landfill costs, many contractors have found out that recycling construction waste helps their bottom-line. Highlights include:
Turner Construction incorporated a comprehensive construction waste recycling program
into their building of the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon in 1994 and 1995. They ended up
netting $200,000 by reducing the number of loads that went to the landfill as well as
receiving income from the buy-back of materials they had recycled. Gene Fatur, a manager
with Turner, said that "We found out that recycling was not just the noble thing to
do, but that it had a positive effect on our bottom line."
Following the same philosophy as they incorporated on the Rose Garden project, Turner Construction incorporated recycling as much as possible into their building of the "E" Center in West Valley City, Utah in 1997. Unlike the established network of recyclers and construction waste recycling in Oregon, Turner found that recycling these items in Utah was not as simple as it was in Oregon. However, they did recycle cardboard, steel, wood and concrete.
Four loads of cardboard were recycled at BFI and netted Turner $656. Seven loads of
steel were sent to Atlas and netted Turner $2,760. Two loads of wood went to the South
Valley Water Reclamation chipping facility and netted Turner $130. And 17 loads of
concrete were sent to a reclamation facility, where they were dumped for $4.50 a ton,
rather that $19 a ton if they were landfilled. This netted Turner a savings of $1,207.
Altogether, Turner netted $4,753 for their recycling efforts and diverted approximately
150 tons of debris from the landfill.
An August, 1997 Christian Science Monitor article described a lumber reclamation company in Virginia:
Part of a growing lumber industry that's never cut down a tree, Mountain Lumber in
Ruckersville, Virginia de-nails, cuts, and kiln dries wood from turn-of-the-century
factories, aging inner-city warehouses, and dairy barns for products from furniture to
tongue-and-groove flooring. Founded nearly 25 years ago, Mountain Lumber is now among the
largest of 75 recycled lumber suppliers in the US. The Southern Forest Products
Association estimates that as much as half of the pine flooring installed today is
reclaimed lumber. Finished recycled wood costs about $9 per square foot for granary oak to
$17 for antique American oak. And now, with the cost of new dimensional lumber for framing
at $300 to 400 per thousand board feet, the reclamation industry is expanding to offer
rough-cut studs and joists from old buildings that are less expensive than fresh-cut pine.