The Montana Pollution Prevention Program has developed this guide to provide residential construction contractors and designers with practical ideas on how to reduce or eliminate waste. The steps outlined in this guide, referred to as “Best Pollution Prevention Practices,” follow environmental management priorities set by the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. The Act does not place specific requirements on businesses or other industrial sectors, but rather suggests strategies for voluntary compliance.
Using pollution prevention (also known as waste minimization or source reduction) methods avoids generating waste in the first place. Reuse and recycling are less desirable than pollution prevention because these methods manage wastes that have already been created. The least desirable waste management methods are treatment and disposal.
Many of the suggestions in this guide involve free or low-cost operational changes. Other suggestions may require structural modifications, complex technologies, or material substitutions.
Benefits of Pollution Prevention
Minimizing waste can improve your profitablility. The following benefits can help you save money while keeping our towns and rural areas great places in which to live, work, and play.
Reduced Disposal Costs
Disposal costs rise as new landfill sites become harder to find. Fees for disposal of construction and demolition (C&D) debris. If your tipping fees are between $30 and $75 you may be able to save up to 25% by recycling. With fees of $75 and higher savings should exceed 25%. Through a combination of methods discussed in this guide you can send less to the landfill, avoid these high fees, and benefit from reuse and recycling savings.
Although recycling some materials may be difficult in some areas of the country, recycling opportunities do exist. For example, metal is readily recyclable and has a good dollar value. Recycling other materials such as wood, drywall, cardboard, plastics, and leftover paints and solvents can reduce your disposal costs.
Hazardous wastes are much more expensive to manage than non-hazardous solid wastes. Choosing materials that will not become hazardous waste if not completely used will save on disposal costs. By minimizing the generation of hazardous waste, your associated regulatory and record keeping costs will also be reduced.
Enhanced Health and Safety
Waste minimization practices and wise material selection help reduce your employees’ risk of accidents or exposure to harmful substances. For example, switching to less toxic adhesives reduces indoor air contaminants for framers, carpet installers, cabinet makers, tile layers, and future occupants.
As a contractor, you are responsible for complying with regulatory requirements and you are liable for any environmental damage caused by your activities. One way to reduce your liability is to make sure your subcontractors and employees follow applicable environmental regulations and adhere to a set of waste minimization practices. If you stop generating hazardous waste, you can often reduce your regulatory exposure and decrease or even eliminate the need for permits, manifests, and reports.
Improved Market Appeal
In response to growing consumer concern for health hazards from common pollutants (lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), formaldehyde, and wood preservatives), building healthy homes can be a strong marketing strategy.
How to Use This Guide
The eleven sections in this guide provide valuable information regarding regulations and waste minimization in the construction industry. Within each section you will find three information boxes guiding you through regulations, best pollution prevention objectives and practices, and contacts for further information.
Each section of this guide includes pertinent federal regulations, and suggestions to possible permit procedures, and notification requirements applicable to the construction industry. Regulations vary greatly across the country, it is the contractors responsibility to be aware of all local, state and federal regulations as well as licensing and permitting requirements.
Exact descriptions of the laws and regulations can be obtained from a variety of sources, including your local library. Federal laws and regulations cited in this guide include are abbreviated by the following: CFR (Code of Federal Regulation).
This piece should not be used as a regulatory checklist, merely a guide to help seek out the appropriate agencies and raise awareness of regulated practices in residential construction across the country.
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
Throughout this guide you will find practical suggestions for minimizing waste. Many of these can even help you comply with regulations that are required by law.
An attempt has been made to list names and contact information for specific regulatory agencies and other organizations after each topic so you can easily contact the proper authority for more detailed information. Only generic suggestions can be made as to where local and state information may be found. IE: county sanitarian, EPA state operations office or state/local home builders association.