As Oregon demolition contractors, we spend a lot of time dealing with construction waste. Like all demolition companies, our operation creates thousand of tons of building materials that demand disposal. Each city we work in has its own rules for material management, i.e., getting rid of construction and demolition (C&D) materials. Today we’re taking a look at material management in Portland—how it has historically been handled in Stumptown, and how the city’s current material management approach benefits citizens. We also offer five tips for managing construction debris.
The History of Material Management in Portland
According to the City’s Office of Planning and Sustainability, Portland first began regulating C&D debris in 1995. At that time, all projects with a value of $25,000 or more had to recycle at least half of job-site waste. City law required five common materials—metal, cardboard, wood, land-clearing debris, and concrete/masonry—to be recycled. Two years later, that minimum value amount was raised to $50,000, with the justification that the additional $25,000 in value didn’t create much more waste. In 2007, the Portland Recycles! Plan recommended increasing the mandatory C&D recycling rate to 75% by 2015. This recommendation was made law in 2008. One year later, the City updated its Green Building Policy to require an 85% recycling rate for construction and renovations of City-owned facilities. Finally, in 2011, Portland launched a new online resource for C&D recycling—recyclingnutsandbolts.com.
Benefits of Portland’s Material Management Approach
• Operational Excellence. Portland’s requirements spur companies to gain experience in recycling and waste prevention, which is an excellent marketing tool for clients who are interested in LEED and other green construction approaches.
• Cost effectiveness. Recycling or donating C&D waste can help construction and demolition firms avoid disposal fees, while earning tax deductions, salvaging value from recycled materials, and cutting costs by reusing recycled materials on-site. (For instance, concrete can be crushed down into pipe-filler material.)
• Job Creation. Progressive C&D material management creates recycling jobs in our region, which tend to pay better than the national average wage.
• Environmental Benefits. Less debris in landfills means less greenhouse gas emitted by landfills. As Portland’s demolition companies divert materials away from landfills, there is less pressure to mine and process raw building materials, cutting energy costs and carbon dioxide gases. Finally, recycling requires far less energy than creating new products.
As industry leaders in green demolition, we would like to offer a few tips for managingconstruction debris and meeting (or exceeding!) Portland’s requirements for C&D recycling.
Portland Demolition Contractors’ 5 Tips for Construction Debris Management
- Sort as you go. Set up the demolition job site with pre-determined areas for different materials, including concrete, scrap metal, and wood. As contractors work, they will know where to deposit materials for processing. This can save you significant time over the lifespan of a demolition project.
- Understand environmental requirements before starting work. Portland’s regulations are only the beginning. Demolition firms must also be prepared to follow state and federal C&D disposal guidelines. The EPA, for instance, often requires that industrial demolition sites be returned to a natural state. Plan for regulations early to facilitate a smooth, hiccup-free demolition process.
- Salvage what you can through deconstruction. Fixtures, architectural elements, pipes, copper wires, flooring—it can all be reused in new projects. When possible, deconstruct in a manner to preserve materials and maximize salvage value.
- Take special care with hazardous materials. Your demolition plan for each project should include an in-depth assessment of hazardous materials that may be present, such as radioactive measurement devices, asbestos, and lead. Think ahead about how to protect workers and the general public while handling and disposing hazardous materials.
- Reuse as much as possible on site. We have acquired a concrete crusher that allows us to immediately crush concrete into gravel, which is useful for a variety of construction purposes. Favor equipment and approaches that empower you to recycle where you are.
If we all do our part, we can make a big difference on how much trash is sent to landfills. Demolition companies have a responsibility to care for their communities by striving to recycle as much as possible from job sites. To learn about how much we could recycle from your demolition project, call us today. We would be happy to chat more about our green demolition techniques.