Every construction and/or demolition project generates trash — and lots of it. As an example, the average new construction project generates about 4 pounds of waste per square foot, or about 50 tons of waste for a 25,000 square foot building. The average demolition project generates a whopping 155 pounds of waste per square foot, or almost 2,000 tons of waste for a 25,000-foot structure. Obviously, all of that trash needs to go somewhere, and someone needs to take it there. So the question for construction and demolition contractors becomes: What’s the best way to handle all that C&D debris?
Reuse or Recycle
One of the most environmentally sound and potentially economical solutions to the issue of C&D debris is to reuse of recycle what you can. From an environmental standpoint, recycling has a number of benefits, including reducing the use of landfill space and conserving natural resources. For example, clean wood can be processed into biomass fuel; crushed concrete can be converted into gravel; and dirt; rock and sand can be used as alternative daily cover (ADC) in landfills.
Deconstructing existing structures is another sustainable solution, and an economical one at that. By carefully deconstructing structures before demolition, it’s possible to salvage many materials that can be reused at a later time. Doors, windows, countertops, molding, roofing and plumbing fixtures are all excellent candidates for repurposing. Even if you can’t use them yourself, you can sell or donate them, thus generating either extra income or a write off at tax time.
DIY or Outsource–Hauling C&D Debris Away
Whether you’re recycling C&D debris or hauling it to a landfill, you will still need some way to get it from point A to point B. Many contractors choose to handle this task themselves, but there are pitfalls in taking this approach.. The first, of course, is safety. Your construction or demo crew may be excellent at their jobs, but hauling debris is likely not their primary area of expertise. Moving heavy slabs of broken concrete or large pieces of rebar can be dangerous work, especially for those who aren’t appropriately trained. Construction debris may also contain toxic materials such as asbestos, PCBs, respirable crystalline silica or lead. If your workers don’t have the right safety gear and training, handling these materials can put their health and even their lives at risk.
And then there are dump fees, the cost of gas, and wear and tear on your trucks. Furthermore, when your employees are out on a dump run, they’re not working at their normal jobs. And since that work generates revenue for you, using them to haul C&D debris seems like a lose-lose financially.
Hiring a Professional
For of all the above reasons, hiring a professional to manage your C&D debris is generally a wise choice. Many contractors already have connections to resources in their area. But for those who need help locating what they need, there are a number of national organizations that help with the management of C&D debris. According the Environmental Protection Agency, these include the following:
- The Associated General Contractors of America is the largest construction trade association in the United States. AGC partners with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences to provide the Construction Industry Compliance Assistance tool. Resources on debris removal are available on the CICA website. Just click the C&D debris tab on the left side of the home page.
- The Construction & Demolition Recycling Association provides educational resources and facilitates communication between member companies.
- The Building Materials Reuse Association is a membership based nonprofit that represents companies that buy and sell used building materials and companies that recycle them. The organization maintains an online directory of contractors, deconstruction companies, recyclers and reprocessors of C&D debris for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
- The National Demolition Association is a membership based organization that represents contractors that manage demolition debris, including disposal and recycling. It provides information on best practices, industry updates and educational resources for over 600 demolition contractors across the United States.
The Carmoon Group is an insurance brokerage with over 20 years of experience helping construction businesses manage risk. Our clients include general contractors, subcontractors, and niche companies such as demolition and metal erection contractors. And because we interface with a large network of insurance providers nationwide, we provide insurance solutions for companies all across the United States. So why not give us a call to learn what we can do for you? Or if you prefer, reach out online and we’ll get back to you at a convenient time.