Tech companies aren’t the only innovators in the new millennium. Every thriving field has its own exciting edge of development, and the debris management industry is no exception. For instance, some of the largest U.S. landfills are now producing a reliable source of alternative energy – methane. At the same time, industrial demolition services must still adhere to the basics of debris management. The following provides a quick look at how construction and demolition (C&D) debris fits into the big picture of debris management.
Composition of Construction & Demolition Debris
Companies like Elder Demolition, who specialize in industrial demolition services, are aware of the fact that C&D debris makes up a large portion of this country’s landfills. Construction and demolition debris is composed of materials such as:
- Bricks, stones and other masonry
- Plaster and drywall
- Wood, both treated and untreated
- Electrical materials
Basically, any of the bulky material left over after a new construction or renovation project qualifies as C&D debris.
C&D Debris Management Practices: Landfills, Hazardous Materials and Clean Energy
Like all of our country’s garbage, most C&D debris eventually makes its way to a landfill. Some goes to regular municipal landfills, while other debris ends up in special C&D-only landfills. When the EPA last checked (in 1994) there were 1,900 C&D specialty landfills operating in the U.S.
The tricky thing about C&D debris is that it can contain hazardous materials such as lead, asbestos and even radioactive devices in the case of industrial demolition. Arizona to Arkansas, demolition companies and contractors must take special care to separate out hazardous materials. The EPA has outlined specific procedures contractors should take when handling and disposing of hazardous material.
The sheer quantity of trash in our country’s landfills has spurred the development of a new form of energy: methane gas production. Methane is a natural byproduct of landfill zones; this gas is released as our trash decomposes. Some of the nation’s largest landfills – including one in Columbia Ridge, Ore. – are capturing and processing methane gas to power huge turbines and create usable electricity. The Columbia Ridge Landfill, for instance, produces enough energy to power 5,600 homes.
These landfill-fueled power plants are especially green considering that methane has 23 times the negative impact of carbon dioxide on our atmosphere. By capturing the methane before it can contribute to climate change, landfill operators can help lower our overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Green demolition is another innovation that’s decreasing the negative impact of our landfills. Basically, those who practice green demolition aim to reuse as many materials as possible. In the case of C&D debris, there are plenty of usable materials that can be repurposed rather than tossed into the landfill. For instance, we maintain powerful crushing equipment to transform on-site concrete into usable fill. Demolition companies are even pursuing “deconstruction,” i.e. taking a building apart by hand so as to preserve as many materials as possible for reuse. Whether operating in Montana, Arizona, Colorado or any other Western state, we aim to reuse as much as we can to help limit the amount of C&D materials entering our landfills.