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Construction Recycling Tips: A Cheat Sheet for Responsible C&D Disposal

Recycling construction waste isn’t just about doing good for the environment. While it takes a little planning, starting a habit of construction recycling can benefit your business in several ways. In the short term, you’ll reduce your debris disposal costs. In the long term, you’ll help to lower landfill fees in your area by diverting waste away from them, and you’ll aid in the creation of lower-cost materials made from recycled construction and demolition debris, or C&D for short.

Nearly all common construction waste can be recycled, including concrete, masonry, wood, asphalt shingles, metal, glass, rigid plastics, carpet and even insulation. With these tips, you can quickly start recycling on your job sites.

1. Know the Local Recycling Landscape

Do your research into the C&D recycling services available in your area, including what materials they take and in what forms. Recyclers who take commingled debris are your best bet, since they won’t require you to sort the debris while on the job. Many recyclers' rates are lower than area landfills, so recycling is a simple way to save on construction debris disposal.

2. Consider Separating Your Most Common Material

If you can’t find a recycler that accepts commingled debris, consider instead recycling the most common construction waste materials on your job sites. From asphalt shingles to concrete, there are businesses out there that specialize in various types of C&D recycling.

The best way to handle separating these materials from the rest of your debris is to place receptacles where workers won’t have to go out of their way to reach them. If separation doesn’t require added effort, your workers are likely to be on board.

3. Reduce Packaging

Purchase materials in bulk and use returnable containers whenever possible. A significant portion of the waste on a job comes from materials packaging. Buying in bulk saves you money and also removes the need to recycle excess packaging. 

When you receive non-returnable containers, reuse them around your job site or donate them to charities such as Habitat for Humanity.

4. Work in Small Batches

When you’re working with materials that are prone to spoilage, prepare them in batches small enough to be used completely before spoiling. This is another construction recycling tip that benefits you as much as it benefits the environment—the fewer materials you’re forced to throw out, the fewer additional materials you’ll need to purchase.

5. Make Use of Scrap Whenever Possible

Instruct your workers and subcontractors to collect scrap material and keep it handy at cutting stations. When something needs to be cut, it will often be possible to cut it from a scrap piece rather than new material. This saves debris from being thrown out while conserving materials and ultimately saving you money.

Do you recycle on the job? Share your tips in the comments.

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