Construction waste disposal is not only expensive, but it’s also damaging to the environment when not approached strategically. Whether you are a contractor, building owner, or a homeowner doing renovations, you’ll find that your projects are going to create a massive amount of waste.
Sending everything straight to a landfill might be a logical first choice, but it’s probably not the best option for the environment. According to EPA figures, 534 million tons of construction debris was generated in 2014 alone. These include materials such things as concrete, tile, lumber, carpet, steel, plastic, and drywall.
Even if you wanted to send all of these items straight to the dump, this many not be an option for much longer. Unfortunately, landfills are becoming so overcrowded with waste that their restrictions are becoming more rigid. Here are several tips for cheaper and greener construction waste disposal that you can begin applying to your next construction or renovation project.
1. Work Smarter
Better and cheaper waste disposal almost always comes down to having a superior plan in place. Some of the construction debris sent to landfills is actually unused materials, so one way to save money and reduce waste is to have better estimating programs in place.
When you do need to dispose of materials on a worksite, create a packaging and disposal strategy ahead of time. For example, large hollow items such as sinks and bathtubs should lie open side up in a bin so they can also be filled with waste. Only spring for expensive contractor bags when there aren’t any other alternatives to hold waste.
2. Recycle Materials
One of your goals should be to set aside as much construction debris for recycling as possible. RecycleWorks reports that new construction sites in the U.S. produce an average of six pounds of waste per square foot of construction. Some construction debris items that you can set aside for recycling include asphalt, concrete, wood, metals, tile, porcelain, carpet, and dirt. When you create your construction debris plan, set aside separate areas to collect items that should be taken to a recycling facility.
3. Re-Use Construction Materials
Another option for your construction debris is to either reuse the materials yourself or sell them to a company that can integrate the waste into their own building plans. For example, old windows and doors are often reusable as-is or with some minor repairs. Fixtures such as sinks and bathtubs may also be re-used on other projects. Vegetation and trees that are removed from one construction site can be transplanted to help fill out the landscaping plan of another.
4. Outsource Materials Removal
Handling all of your construction debris in-house isn’t necessarily the cheapest or most efficient option. It’s a challenge in itself to haul hundreds if not thousands of pounds of debris away from a work site, and this is a task that you want to be completed on a regular basis. Many professional services will combine hauling away construction debris along with materials that are designated for recycling, which will save you money long-term.
Whether your current project is considered a sustainable or “green” building project or not, there are ways to tailor construction waste disposal so that it has less of an impact on both the environment and your project’s bottom line. The most effective means of waste disposal is to carefully plan and sort materials so that your materials recycling and re-use programs will have the greatest impact.
It was interesting to learn more about construction waste disposal. I would think that it would be important to recycle waste materials as well. This would prevent hazardous metals and other materials from getting into landfills.