California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

1999 Trash Cutter Award Program Case Studies

City of Watsonville: Best Construction & Demolition Debris Management Program

Program Description

In August 1998, the city remodeled a portion of its downtown City Hall. During the "deconstruction phase" valuable materials were saved for reuse in other parts of the city. In addition to reuse during the remodel project, tons of materials were removed from the waste stream and recycled, saving valuable space in the landfill. The city closed the loop by using recycled-content products during the construction stage of the project.

Program Summary

City of Watsonville remodeled a portion of their downtown City Hall. The theme for this project, which was financed from the city's general fund, was "Reducing Waste--Conserving Resources." During the process, valuable materials were saved and reused in other parts of the city. The city closed the recycle loop by using recycled-content products during the final stage of the remodel project.

Before any demolition occurred, project managers found new homes for materials salvaged during the deconstruction process. The carpet in the file room, mail room and two small conference rooms was reclaimed during the deconstruction. Interior doors were saved and reused in a remodel project at the City's airport.

Because source separation for the recovery and recycling of construction materials is a foreign concept to many contractors, close coordination between the project manager, contractors, and solid waste staff played a key role in the success of this remodel project. Training contractors to separate recyclable materials took perseverance on behalf of the solid waste supervisors. Daily visits by both project managers and solid waste supervisors acted as reminders to focus on recycling objectives. Small containers for recyclables were delivered to the work site and strategically placed to provide easier access for crew workers. These containers were labeled with high visible "recycle only" labels that described the acceptable recyclable materials. The efforts of both the contractors and City staff diverted more materials from the landfill than what was actually landfilled during this project.

Although deconstruction is becoming more common during demolition and construction projects, the City of Watsonville went one step further during this project. The specifications for the project called for the use of products manufactured with recycled content. The counter tops were made by Environ Biocomposits, using a material consisting of soybean protein resins and recycled waste newsprint. Not only is this material made out of natural and recycled materials, it is manufactured using a nonchemical nonpulping paper process that does not produce and release harmful dioxins into the environment.

The cabinets installed as part of the remodel were made from recycled mill scraps and fast-growing trees that are farmed. The insulation contains 25 percent recycled glass. The ceiling tiles contain 25 percent recycled paper. The new carpet is made from recycled plastic. The linoleum in the handicap accessible restroom was made from primarily renewable resources rather than petroleum products.


The project was financed from the City of Watsonville's general fund. 


Recycling occurred during both the deconstruction and construction process. Steel studs from both the demolition and new construction were separated out to be recycled. In addition, a two-ton metal vault door and hundreds of feet of aluminum conduit were separated and recycled. Aluminum window frames were separated from the glass and recycled. The metal collected during the deconstruction, demolition and construction was transported by City trucks to a local recovery facility. Throughout the construction phase, several tons of cardboard boxes were separated, broken down, and recycled

1999 Winners Home

Last updated: January 01, 2000
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