It is becoming more difficult and expensive to dispose of both hazardous and
non-hazardous construction and demolition (C&D) waste because of stricter
environmental regulations and a shortage of landfill space. Non-hazardous C&D
waste typically consists of concrete, insulation, bricks, asphalt, wood, glass,
masonry, roofing, siding, plaster and drywall, soil, rock, stumps, boulders,
Across the country solid waste disposal is highly regulated. Know your
state and local regulations. Any component of C&D waste that is not
reused, recycled, or directed toward a beneficial use is regarded as solid waste
and needs to be disposed of at a licensed landfill.
Even if recycling is not an option for certain materials, source separation
can still be beneficial. By separating bulky from less bulky materials, you
may be able to haul some of your waste to a cheaper facility.
Depending on local regs you may be able to use "clean fill" on site
or on other sites. Clean fill means "soil, dirt, sand, gravel, rocks,
and rebar-free concrete, emplaced free of charge to the person placing the fill,
in order to adjust or create topographic irregularities for agricultural or
construction purposes." Be aware that wood, asphalt, wallboard, mixed
construction debris, and the like are not considered clean fill.
Contact your State Codes Bureau before using clean fill as a base material
Home or industrial appliances containing CFCs
Appliances (also called white goods) include water heaters, refrigerators,
kitchen stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, and clothes dryers. White goods
should be recycled.
Note that refrigerators may contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or small polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCB) capacitors that are regulated by the EPA. A release of CFCs
into the environment is illegal; consequently the CFCs must be removed by an
EPA-certified remover prior to recycling or disposal. You may be required to
have the CFCs removed or pay the recycler/landfill to have it removed.
For more information on PCBs or CFCs, contact the State EPA Operations Office
- 40 CFR 50-99, Title VI Regulations in the Clean Air Act Section regarding
Storage and Collection of Waste
How waste is collected and stored is often regulated. The following
are often components of regulations as well as good management practices:
- Solid waste must be collected and stored to prevent vector growth; conditions
for transmission of diseases to humans or animals; hazards to service or disposal
workers or the public; air pollution, water pollution, or escape of solid
wastes or contaminated water to public waters; objectionable odors; dust;
unsightliness; or other nuisance conditions.
- Solid waste must be removed at regular intervals. Check with city or county
officials for local storage, safety, and removal requirements.
- Storage bins and areas must be watertight, rodent-proof, cleaned regularly,
and managed to minimize leaks or spills.
- Site must be kept clean and litter must be controlled.
- Burning or burying solid waste is strictly regulated.
- Solid waste being transported on a public highway must be attached, covered,
or otherwise secured to the vehicle to prevent littering or creating a dangerous
EVALUATE YOUR SOLID WASTE STREAM
What does your waste stream look like? Below is a list of materials that usually
make up a construction project's waste stream. Fill in the estimated percent
by volume for each component (waste stream percentages will vary according to
the type of project being done). By examining what typically goes into your
dumpster, you can identify wastes that can be eliminated, minimized, salvaged,
Waste Stream Assessment:
||_______% Plastics & Foam
||_______% Crates & Pallets
||_______% Electrical Wire
||_______% Fireproofing Overspray
REDUCE SOLID WASTE
New buildings generate large amounts of waste, especially wood waste. According
to the Center for Resourceful Building Technology in Missoula, a typical new
single-family home creates 4-7 tons of waste, almost 50% of which is wood. Efficient
wood use stretches the limited supply of wood products, reduces the pressure
on forests from logging, and saves you money.
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
- Reduce the amount of waste generated during
- Reduce disposal fees and construction costs.
- Provide a safe, clean site.
- Design to use less. Evaluate the design to
see if there are ways to increase the efficiency of materials used.
- Use standard lumber or drywall dimensions.
- Buy only as much material as you need to get
the job done.
- Salvage and reuse items that are in good condition
such as doors, cabinets, and equipment.
- Encourage reduction of packaging waste. Ask
suppliers to deliver products in returnable pallets and containers.
- Store lumber on level blocking and cover to
minimize warping, twisting, and waste.
- Measure carefully. Use a central cutting area.
Smaller lengths can be used for spacers or blocking or left for
firewood. Save clean sawdust for compost or mulch.
- Make subcontractors responsible for their own
waste. Include waste reduction in subcontract specifications.
- Use alternative materials, such as engineered
wood products, which can be ordered to the exact size you need.
SALVAGE OR REUSE WASTE
Renovating an existing structure rather than building a new one is one of the
best ways to reduce material waste. Renovation avoids wasted energy from the
manufacture, transport, and assembly of new building materials.
Salvage of materials is usually more cost effective than disposal, but this
depends on local markets for resale or reuse of materials. It is a good idea
to go over the building with someone from a local salvage business (listed in
the Yellow Pages under "Demolition Contractors," "Salvage,"
or "Building Materials - Used").
As an example, you might never think of reusing blueprints. Blueprints can
be cut into scratch pads or used at a preschool for art classes. Look
for other ways to reuse materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Another way you can divert wastes from landfills is to locate a local Material
Exchange These exchanges connect
businesses that have unwanted but usable materials with businesses that need
those materials. The benefits of exchanges include reduction of disposal costs,
acquisition of inexpensive raw materials, and decreased use of landfills.
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
- Reuse materials.
- Save landfill space.
- Save energy.
- Conserve natural resources.
- Identify salvage opportunities.
- To avoid ownership problems with salvage materials,
sign clearly written contracts before project permits are issued.
You may need a separate agreement with each salvage company. Include
appropriate insurance and licensing requirements in these agreements.
- Allow time for salvage as early in the construction
process as possible.
- Use as many existing materials and building
components as possible in the new design or store them for use in
a future project.
- Donate materials to nonprofit organizations
if you cannot use them.
- Plan ahead for salvage. A built-in is a good
example of an item that can be salvaged if elements are attached
with screws rather than glue.
It is impossible to eliminate or salvage all waste; however, studies show that
builders who separate and recycle waste can save on hauling and disposal costs
even when they factor in the extra labor. Material recovery facilities (MRFs)
usually offer reduced rates for disposal of recyclable C&D waste. Although
there are currently few of these facilities in Montana, the number of MRFs will
likely increase with demand.
Uses for Recycled Materials
Materials suitable for recycling today include cardboard, concrete, and
metals. Uses and markets for products that previously could not be recycled
are now expanding (examples: gypsum from wallboard is used as a soil amendment;
concrete and asphalt are crushed and used as aggregate or base material. Construction
industry waste makes up roughly 20% of the total municipal waste stream recycling
can significantly lower this figure.
Best Pollution Prevention Practices
- Reduce disposal fees and overall construction
costs through recycling.
- Provide feedstock for the manufacture of new
- Evaluate your waste stream. Estimate the quantity
of recyclable materials you will generate. Identify materials that
have the most recycling potential in your area. Recyclable materials
are likely to include cardboard, wood, metal, concrete, masonry,
- Contact local recycling centers to determine
each facility's acceptance requirements and restrictions. Find out
if they recycle plastics, paints and finishes, asphalt roofing,
or expanded polystyrene. Find out if they require separation of
wastes or allow mixed wastes.
- Compare the costs for hauling clean source-separated
materials versus mixed waste.
- Incorporate recycling into subcontracts. Include
requirements for source separation and on-site recycling.
- Ask your waste hauler or cleanup contractor
to supply bins and to give you advice for setting up the site for
- Clearly designate recycling bins. Use color
coding or large graphics.
- Encourage subcontractors and employees to reuse
and recycle. Discuss waste handling requirements before beginning
a project and ask for their suggestions about more efficient methods
- Track your results. Compare the costs to separate
materials for recycling versus hauling everything to a landfill.
- Work with your local building association or
solid waste agency to expand opportunities for recycling.
Center for Resourceful Building Technology (CRBT)
PO Box 100
Missoula, MT 59806
(Fact Sheet 7 of 12)