According to the 2014 Disposal Facility-Based Characterization of Solid Waste in California, construction and demolition (C&D) materials are estimated to account for between 21.7 to 25.5 percent of the disposed waste stream. Previous study estimates have ranged from 29 percent in 2008 to 24 percent in 2004.
Common C&D materials include lumber, drywall, metals, masonry (brick, concrete, etc.), carpet, plastic, pipe, rocks, dirt, paper, cardboard, or green waste related to land development. Many of these materials can be reused or recycled, thus prolonging our supply of natural resources and potentially saving money in the process. Of these, metals are the most commonly recycled material while lumber makes up the majority of debris that still goes to a landfill.
- Excerpts from Best Practices in Waste Reduction Video
- Reuse and Recycling
- Tools for architects, builders, local governments, and C&D processors
Excerpts: Best Practices in Waste Reduction Video (October 2009)
Below are several chapters in CalRecycle's 12-chapter Best Practices in Waste Reduction video series:
- Chapter 1: Opening Overview (WMV, 02:39) | YouTube | Transcript
- Chapter 3: C&D and MRFs (WMV, 02:24) | YouTube | Transcript
- Chapter 4: C&D--The Law and Monetary Incentives (WMV, 02:24) | YouTube | Transcript
- Chapter 5: C&D--Separating Material (WMV, 01:34) | YouTube | Transcript
- Chapter 8: Deconstruction and Wood Waste (WMV, 01:19) | YouTube | Transcript
Reducing waste can save you money, conserve energy and resources, and reduce air, soil, and water pollution. The Best Practices in Waste Reduction video shows you real options for recycling, reducing, or reusing solid waste products. All 12 chapters are available to watch on YouTube or on our Video Central training page. Helping promote California’s development of markets for recyclable materials is part of our mission. We can help you with technical, financial, and permitting assistance. Please feel free to contact CalRecycle's Office of Public Affairs for more information. (2009)
Reuse and Recycling
Reuse and recycling of C&D materials is one component of a larger holistic practice called sustainable or green building construction. The efficient use of resources is a fundamental tenet of green building construction. This means reducing, reusing, and recycling most if not all materials that remain after a construction or renovation project. Green building construction practices can include salvaging dimensional lumber from the project, using aggregates reclaimed from crushed concrete, or grinding drywall scraps for use on site as a soil amendment.
At the end of a building’s life, demolition generates large amounts of materials that can be reused or recycled, principally wood, concrete and other types of masonry, and drywall. Rather than demolish an entire building, consider “deconstructing” all or part of the structure. Deconstruction is the orderly dismantling building components for reuse or recycling. In contrast to demolition, where buildings are knocked down and materials are either landfilled or recycled, deconstruction involves carefully taking apart portions of buildings or removing their contents with the primary goal being reuse. It can be as simple as stripping out cabinetry, fixtures, and windows, or as involved as manually taking apart the building frame.
For more information about sustainable building products and methods, please visit CalRecycle's Green Building website.
Through careful planning, reuse and recycling of C&D materials can actually be more economical than disposal. For information about common C&D recycling practices and techniques as they apply to specific materials, visit the C&D materials page.
Additionally, many local jurisdictions operate or have knowledge of local private recycling options. To locate a contact for your local jurisdiction, use the CalRecycle's Local Assistance Contacts database.
Using recycled content building materials helps to close the loop and can be used in association with CALGreen, LEED, CHPS, and other green building program and systems.
Information about Construction and Demolition related events or workshops can be found on the Green Building Events database.