Here at Elder Demolition, we’re passionate about reusing building materials. Indeed, in addition to being a leading industrial demolition contractor, we are also one of the largest scrap metal recyclers on the West Coast. Yet not every demolition firm has caught on to the benefits of reusing construction debris. Below, we list some of our top reasons for reducing and recycling C&D (construction and demolition) materials.
First, let’s establish just what C&D materials encompass. Basically, these are the bulky parts of a building that industrial demolition contractors must dispose of: plastics, metals, glass, bricks, concrete, drywall gypsum, doors, asphalt, windows and even rocks are among the most common C&D items.
In past decades, demolition companies would simply discard the C&D materials from commercial, industrial and residential demolition projects. In recent years, however, many state and municipal governments have put legislation in place that requires reusing a set percentage of C&D items. Some commercial and industrial demolition contractors (including Elder Demolition) go beyond mandated recycling standards.
Here are a few benefits of recycling and reusing C&D materials:
1. Decreases the environmental impact of producing new building materials. It typically takes far less energy to repurpose C&D materials than it does to produce the same materials from scratch. Recycling scrap metal demolition materials, for instance, results in a 58 percent reduction in CO2 emissions over using virgin materials.
2. Generates jobs. As demolition contractors find new ways to reuse materials, new green jobs are created. For example, a 2011 report found that the scrap metal recycling industry directly supports 137,640 jobs in the United States.
3. Preserves landfill space. Here’s an outrageous fact: In 1996, the U.S. produced 136 million tons of building-related C&D materials – equivalent to 2.8 pounds of waste every day for every man, woman and child in the country! Diverting C&D materials from these disposal streams means less waste enters our landfills.
4. Shrinks demolition expenses through decreased disposal and purchase costs. Government agencies and environmentalists aren’t the only ones who love C&D recycling – project managers are also enamored with the practice once they realize how much savings it can bring. Rather than pay hefty disposal fees, demolition supervisors often find their project costs offset by recycling scrap, concrete and other materials. Finally, the cost of erecting new buildings may be reduced by selecting repurposed C&D materials.
For all of these reasons, we prioritize investments that will allow us to recycle as much as possible from our demolition projects. We maintain a huge on-site crusher, for instance, that can pulverize concrete into usable chunks.
[Photo by: Seattle Municipal Archives, via CC License]