11:32 am - Monday May 28, 2012

Construction Recycling

recycling-waste-managementConstruction waste recycling is the separation and recycling of recoverable waste materials generated during construction and remodeling. Packaging, new material scraps and old materials and debris all constitute potentially recoverable materials. In renovation, appliances, masonry materials, doors and windows are recyclable.

Before recycling construction waste, identify who will accept it. This is important in designating type of waste to separate, and in making arrangements for drop-off or delivery of materials. In Austin, materials that can be recycled include:

  • Appliances and fixtures
  • Brush and Trees
  • Cardboard and Paper
  • Lumber and Plywood (in reusable form)
  • Masonry (in reusable form or as fill)
  • Metals
  • Plastics – numbered containers, bags and sheeting
  • Roofing (in reusable form)
  • Windows and Doors

Materials Separation : Containers for material recycling must be set up on site and clearly labeled. Construction personnel must be trained in material sorting policy, and bins must be monitored periodically to prevent waste mixing as a result of crews or passersby throwing trash into the bins.
Some materials will require bins or storage that protect from rain. Other bins may be locked to prevent tampering.

Recycling and Waste Minimization Guidelines:

The following information is adapted from the Environmental Building News, Nov/Dec 1992.

1. Lumber
Optimize building dimensions to correspond to standard lumber dimensions.
Modify framing details to optimize lumber use and reduce waste and inform framing contractor of your plan.
Develop detailed framing layouts to avoid waste when ordering lumber.
Store lumber on level blocking under cover to minimize warping, twisting and waste.
Set aside lumber and plywood/OSB cut-offs that can be used later as fire blocking, spacers in header construction, etc.
In remodeling, evaluate whether salvaging used lumber is possible.
Save small wood scraps to use as kindling for clients or crew members (no treated wood).
Larger pieces of leftover lumber (6′ or more in length) can be donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Save clean sawdust for use in compost piles or around gardens. Avoid sawdust that might contain painted or treated wood. This should be bagged separately. Untreated bagged sawdust may be donated to Austin Community Gardens.

2. Drywall
Order drywall in optimal dimensions to minimize cut-off waste. Drywall is available in different lengths, and designed dimensions should correspond to standard sizes.
Large drywall scraps can be set aside during hanging for use as filler pieces in areas such as closets.
Technology exists, although it is not available in Austin at this time, for recycling drywall into textured wall sprays, acoustical coatings, gypsum stucco, fire barriers, or agricultural products. Large pieces of drywall (full to half sheets) can be donated to Habitat for Humanity (see Resources ).
Reuse joint compound buckets for tool or material storage by clients or crews.

3. Masonry
Estimate masonry material needs carefully to avoid waste.
During construction, collect, stack and cover brick and other masonry materials to prevent soiling or loss.
Salvage usable bricks, blocks, slate shingles, tile and other masonry materials from remodeling and construction. Store for future jobs or divert to salvage operations. (See Resources .)
Check to see if your masonry supplier will accept the return of materials in good condition.
Clean concrete chunks, old brick, broken blocks, and other masonry rubble can be buried on-site during foundation back-filling.
Good quality used concrete (also known as urbanite) can also be used as brick or block for landscaping walls and foundations for small buildings.

4. Metals and Appliances
During remodeling, separate metal radiators, grates, piping, aluminum siding, and old appliances for salvage or recycling.
Consider a front yard sale of usable items during the construction process.
During construction, separate metals for recycling, including copper piping, wire and flashing; aluminum siding, flashing and guttering; iron and steel banding from bundles, nails and fasteners, galvanized flashing and roofing, and rebar; and lead chimney flashing. It is critical to keep lead out of landfills because it could leach into groundwater.
The Ecology Action Diversion Center at the city landfill will accept all metals and appliances.

5. Cardboard and Paper
Avoid excessively packaged materials and supplies. However, be sure packaging is adequate to prevent damage and waste.
Separate cardboard waste, bundle, and store in a dry place. Recycle through Ecology Action.
Minimize the number of blueprints and reproductions necessary during the design and construction process.

6. Insulation
Install left-over insulation in interior wall cavities or on top of installed attic insulation if it can not be used on another job.

7. Asphalt Roofing
Left over bundled shingles can be donated.
Technology exists, although it is not available in Austin at this time, to recycle asphalt roofing into road paving or patching material.

8. Plastic and Vinyl
Minimize waste of vinyl siding, flooring and countertop materials by ordering only quantity needed.
Trash bags and plastic sheeting can be recycled through Ecology Action.

9. Paints, Stains, Solvents and Sealants
Donate unused portions to Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They accept any quantity of white latex paint and full gallons of other paints.
Save unused portions for your next job.
Any other unused materials should be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility.

10. Miscellaneous
Branches and trees from brush clearing can be stored separately and chipped at the city’s landfill facility, or a chipper can be used on site to create landscaping mulch.
Old nickel cadmium batteries from portable power tools should be disposed of at a hazardous waste collection facility.
Cabinets, light fixtures, bathtubs, sinks, mortar mix, hardware, nails, screws and plumbing fittings and supplies are all accepted by Habitat for Humanity.

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