Recycling Construction Materials: All You Need To Know

Recycling Construction Materials

Nature and the changes happening nowadays are becoming a trending topic worldwide. Climate change and its impact on the human race raised many concerns about how we do things on our planet. One issue that needs to be noted in the construction industry related to climate change is building materials waste. With it in mind, recycling construction materials got the spotlight now more than ever in the past 50 years.

In the past, c&d disposal only meant sending debris or waste into landfills. Over time, construction companies welcomed the idea of recycling construction materials by taking recycle waste services as it has lots of benefits to offer, not just for the environment but also economically for the contractors.

Benefits of Recycling Construction Wastes

There are many benefits of recycling. Recycling allows you to use a specific material for purposes other than what you initially used it for. If you are into the construction business, here are three benefits why you should choose to recycle construction wastes.

Environmental Benefits

Recycling Construction Materials: All You Need To Know 1

The recycling process itself has many benefits, particularly in saving the environment. It helps the construction industry take part in an important cause to save our planet.

  • Conserves Energy

When you decide to recycle construction materials, you can conserve a large amount of energy. How? You help lower the use of natural resources as you can reuse or repurpose various kinds of materials.

  • Lower Construction Debris in Landfills

Wastes, including construction trash, continually pile up in landfills. It means we have to find other ways to do with wood, glass, and gravel from construction sites. Recycling such waste materials allows you to repurpose them for other uses.

Economic Benefits

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  • Lowers Operational Expenses

Recycling and reusing construction debris or wastes can lower your operational costs. It can reduce the need to spend extra on disposing of materials to landfills. Either way, choose a c&d disposal company that has a recycling facility to lower your expenses further.

Commercial Benefits

As the need for industries to be more environmentally-friendly, the importance of practicing green construction gained popularity. Welcoming the idea of recycling construction materials will provide you a competitive edge over competitions, especially those who are not yet practicing such methods.

And when you brand yourself as a construction company that promotes saving the environment, people, especially those who support such causes, will want to work with you more than other companies. The practice of recycling construction wastes can also be your way to have a LEED certification.

What Materials Can You Recycle?

There are different building material types that you can recycle from construction and demolition projects. They include plasterboard, plastics, glass, wood, bricks/ blocks, floor/ wall coverings, and insulation. There are several options to recycle these materials based on their composition and how to repurpose them.

Plasterboard

Plasterboard typically contains gypsum and paper. It falls under the hazardous waste class, which means you should not put it on biodegradable waste landfills. If unrecycled, the number of plasterboards from demolished sites may increase.

The most common way to recycle such material is to cut it off into several parts so you can easily transport it. You can donate or sell it to toiletry factories, wherever gypsum is needed.

Plastic

Plastic is a standard construction material used in interior fittings, pipework, window and door frames, wall coverings, and insulation. Aside from construction debris from demolition works, it can come as waste from packaging, inadequate storage, over-ordering of supplies, and even workers’ food packaging.

Typical plastic types that you can send for recycling are:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • PET (polyethylene terephthalate)
  • PP (polypropylene)
  • LDPE (low-density polyethylene)
  • HDPE (high-density polyethylene)
  • ABS polymers
  • Polystyrene

There are several ways for you to reuse plastics in a construction setting, such as in flooring works, ducting and pipe drainage works, and damp proofing works. Otherwise, you can also use plastics for packaging, bin liners, and landscape fillers.

Glass

Glass waste from c&d projects is typically the flat glass type. It can be from:

  • Structural parts of a building, such as office partitions
  • Computer monitors
  • Fluorescent lighting fixtures

Glass goes to waste from:

  • Installation accidental breakage
  • Material delivery damage
  • Oversupply of glass materials.

Once the glass waste is processed, you can make it into containers, aggregates, abrasives, decorative materials, and so much more. However, take note that doing a DIY glass recycling process can be expensive and hazardous. Transportation, material handling, and decontamination are some of the many challenges. As an alternative, you can sort out glasses and hand them over to your expert c&d disposal company for recycling instead of bringing them to a landfill.

Wood

Wood is one of the top materials that can be recycled. Wood waste can be from tree branches or fiberboards from different structures. They can come from:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Fencing
  • Floorboards
  • Beams
  • Crates
  • Panels

Reclaimed wood can be used for:

  • Landscaping
  • Materials for children’s play places
  • Architectural components
  • Logs and fuel chips
  • Pathways
  • Crafts
  • Biofuel

Bricks and Blocks

A brick’s lifespan can as long as 100 to 150 years. You can recycle bricks from demolished buildings, walls, bridges, and even sewers, especially if they are still intact. Standard brick compositions are the clay, stone, concrete, and aerated composites.

You can use intact bricks and blocks for new building projects. You can also sell them to other industries, such as:

  • Landscaping companies
  • Aggregate factories
  • Sports manufacturing companies
  • Plant substrate processing companies

Nevertheless, there are also some challenges to recycling bricks. Some of which are:

  • The cleaning process can take a long time and is not always successful.
  • The load-bearing volume of recycled bricks and blocks is challenging to measure.
  • The contamination of bricks from other building debris like plasterboard and aggregates can be extensive.
  • New blocks have low costs.

Floor and Wall Coverings

Floor and wall covering wastes come from various materials, such as:

  • Carpet
  • Wood tiles
  • Laminate flooring
  • Vinyl
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Terrazzo
  • Linoleum
  • Wallpaper

These floor and wall materials go as construction waste when:

  • Materials are in excess from oversupply.
  • They have damage because of improper handling during delivery, storage, or construction.
  • They are cut to fit but were decided not to be used.
  • The purchaser ordered the wrong items and cannot be resent back to the supplier to change.
  • The architect, interior designer, or owner decided to change the design.

There are different recycling options. You can use them for:

  • Pet bedding material
  • Bead or filling manufacturing
  • Road cone manufacturing
  • Manufacturer return or exchange schemes

Some also send floor and wall covering wastes to:

  • Recycling specialists
  • Plastics or horticultural markets
  • Companies that refurbish floor coverings into decorative or architectural items

Like other building wastes, floor and wall covering debris also have some recycling challenges. No one processes or buys glued-together laminate flooring, so they go directly to landfills. Moreover, not all want recycled carpet unless the high-end rugs, which are considered antique.

Insulation

Demolition projects and refurbishment activities can produce insulation wastes. Insulation materials are typically polystyrene, polyurethane, fiberboard, and stone wool. The primary causes of wastage include:

  • Oversupply from unplanned installation
  • Wrongly ordered thickness or material type
  • Poor insulation design or miscalculation of materials needed
  • Mishandling during delivery and storage

Recycling ways for insulation materials can be:

  • Sending stone wool cuts to tile manufacturers
  • Reusing of off-cuts to other parts of the project
  • Returning of unused or damaged materials to manufacturers who offer returns or refunds

However, same as other construction wastes above, recycling insulation materials can also be complicated. There is a lack of end markets and specialized recycling facilities that decontaminate and process used insulation materials. Contaminated items, primarily if found with asbestos and mortar, are not accepted. But, if there is a facility that recovers insulation materials for recycling, you can use it for refurbishment projects.

Partner With A Waste Management and Recycling Facility

The idea of recycling construction materials significantly to help to preserve the environment is a noble act. However, you have to follow many rules, regulations, and safety measures to transport, handle, decontaminate, and process the materials for reuse for you to do such. Fortunately, there are waste management companies with recycling facilities to help you. Find a local partner that can handle your c&d disposal without hassle, is centrally located, and has the resources (facilities, workforce, and tools) to manage your wastes.

Takeaway Thought

Building wastes is an inevitable part of a construction and demolition project. It can come from a wide range of materials, including plasterboards, plastics, glasses, woods, bricks and blocks, floor and wall coverings, and insulation. The causes and recycling methods depend on the composition of the construction waste materials.

Moreover, some difficulties in recycling waste may be contaminated or heavily damaged from mishandling and improper maintenance or storage. Otherwise, if adequately processed for reuse, there are numerous ways for you to use these materials. It can be from architectural decorations, landscaping to even pet beddings. Can you believe it?

Forming a partnership with a reliable c&d disposal company with a recycling facility will also help you process your construction wastes without worrying about what to do with them. Nevertheless, it is always good to think green and care for our environment by incorporating these ideas into our daily work.

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About the Author: Barry Lachey

Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources "Joe Joe." he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.