Demolition Debris Terms
- Disposal: Materials placed in landfills or burned in incinerators
- Recovery: Materials reused via recycling, composting, or burned for energy; recycling is most common
- Generation: Total volume of waste stream
- Recovery rate: The percentage of generation recovered
The State of Oregon’s Landfills
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality releases an annual Material Recovery and Waste Generation Report that collects information about the materials residents and companies threw away, composted and recycled. In 2015, Oregonians generated more than 5 million tons of waste, recovered 46.5 percent of waste generated, and disposed nearly 3 million tons of waste into landfills. Waste generation increased by 4.8 percent from 2014, and disposal rates increased by 6.2 percent.
At the time of publication, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality is working on completing its 2016-2017 study on the composition of disposed solid waste to update its 2009 findings. In 2009, the following items often found on demolition sites made up the waste generated:
- Plastics: 11.56 percent
- Wood/lumber: 11.51 percent
- Metal: 6.98 percent
- Gypsum wallboard: 2.85 percent
- Asphalt roofing and tarpaper: 3.9 percent
- Rock and concrete: 1.19 percent
- Window and other glass (e.g., fluorescent lights): 0.79 percent
- Hazardous materials: 0.45 percent
- Bricks: 0.13 percent
With the rise in waste generated from 2014 to 2015, Oregon is moving in the opposite direction from its green objectives. Moving forward, residents, business owners and demolition contractors are challenged to increase their recovery rates and reduce waste generation to meet the state’s 2020 goals.
The DEQ’s report points out that reduced wood waste recovery rate is difficult for experts to understand because it seems counterintuitive in light of the state’s building boom and improving economy. The agency expects recovery rates to be even lower in its next report because of the 2015 closure of the state’s only large-scale recovery facility, which converted about 85 percent of the region’s wood waste (including non-“blonde” wood) into electricity.
The report also shows that the recovery of metals decreased by 4 percent in 2015, after a 12 percent decrease in 2014. Experts speculate that falling scrap metal prices contributed to the drop in recovery rates.
The DEQ highlights that the amount of municipal solid waste generated tells an interesting story about the state. Between 1992 and 2006, total waste generation often increased steeply from year to year. After 2006, waste generation sharply declined, particularly in 2008 and 2009, when residents were affected by the economic recession. After 2009, waste generation began creeping up at a slow pace of about 1 percent annually. This number jumped dramatically in 2014 to nearly 5 percent (2,553 pounds per resident, or 7.1 pounds per person per day). The next year, the state missed its waste generation goals. However, 2015 figures represent a 10.6 percent drop compared to when waste generation peaked in 2006, which represents a nearly 18 percent drop per-capita.
What is Demolition Asset Recovery?
In the demolition industry, asset recovery is the process of salvaging materials a client may reuse, donate, sell or recycle. Commonly recovered materials include:
- Building materials: Pipes, windows, doors, bricks, beams, wiring, fixtures, drywall, finishing materials, roof shingles, sinks, lighting, and more; clients may donate or sell materials or use them in future projects
- Metal: Copper, steel, aluminum and other metals have a competitive resale value because of their recyclability; demolition contractors use strong magnets to pull ferrous materials from debris to maximize the amount a client can sell
- Concrete: When crushed, concrete is great for recycling or for use in foundations, structural fill, making new concrete, erosion control, backfilling, landscaping, and road bases
- Equipment: HVAC units, generators, machinery, manufacturing equipment, and others; clients can sell, reuse or donate equipment or recycle components
The Importance of Asset Recovery to Oregon’s Environment
Asset recovery has more than financial value. It offers a significant environmental value. Recycling prevents the need to source virgin materials for new production.
In 2015, the practice:
- Saved up to 28 trillion BTUs of energy, almost 3 percent of the state’s energy use
- Reduced the state’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2.9 million metric tons
- About 4.6% of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions (total emissions equal 61.5 million metric tons)
- 4 million tons of materials were recovered by Oregonians
- This represents 46.5% of the municipal post-consumer waste stream
- Reuse programs helped the state exceed its recovery rate goal of 50%
Of the landfill materials recovered:
- 61%was recycled
- 21% was composted
- 18% was burned for energy
It’s no secret that recycling has numerous environmental benefits, including waste reduction, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the conservation of natural resources and energy, and pollution reductions. Asset recovery also offers significant economic benefits that are simple to overlook.
While the prices for recyclable materials commodities fluctuate, demolition clients may earn revenue from their sale and avoid hefty disposal costs. Lockheed Martin’s operations in New Jersey, for example, saved the company almost $120,000 in 2011 by recycling concrete and asphalt. Similarly, Anheuser-Busch’s Newark brewery earned almost $130,000 in scrap metal and aluminum sales in 2014.
Your Oregon site can experience similar financial benefits with Elder Demolition’s asset recovery and green demolition services. In the beginning stages of your project, asset recovery specialists review every inch of your site for recovery opportunities and create a custom plan. Contact us today to request a consultation to learn more about the value of the materials at your site.