By: Marc Spiegel, Rubicon Global
Attendees at this year’s Greenbuild Conference & Expo are no strangers to the idea that construction and demolition (C&D) recycling and diversion from the landfill in your project is a cost-saving, not a cost center, if done properly.
The results speak for themselves and have been replicated on countless C&D projects over the years. But how well has this message been heard by the home and commercial property builders who have yet to put diversion at the center of their work? Better yet, how is this message being disseminated to executives who think more strategically about giving their company an upper-hand?
There is a misconception among some sectors of the general public, as well as numerous construction companies, that diverting materials away from the landfill and into recycling streams is more expensive than simply disposing of C&D waste in a landfill.
It’s my belief, however, that C&D recycling and diversion can be a cost-saving, not a cost center, for almost all C&D projects. All a project needs is the right plan, knowledge of infrastructure, and the ability to do something differently from what they have done for decades.
Recycling is a Cost-Saving
Consider LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a green building certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). For a building to become LEED-certified it must use resources (many of which are nonrenewable) more efficiently than they would if they were simply trying to stick to a standard building code—and in most cases, for a building to be LEED-certified from the moment it’s completed, it must divert the vast majority of its C&D waste from the landfill and into recycling streams.
Earlier this year, State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia received LEED Gold certification after partnering with Rubicon to recycle 12,500 seats from the arena as part of a refurbishment project. The project resulted in 64 tons of recyclable material being identified.
Green buildings can have lower maintenance costs, can significantly cut down on waste, and can be better for a developer’s bottom line. This is no trivial thing.
How to Divert C&D Materials
This isn’t just true of LEED buildings. C&D recycling and diversion is a cost-saving regardless of a building or other construction project’s certification, as materials that would otherwise have been sent to landfill have a monetary value that you can leverage.
When you recycle C&D waste, the cost of recycling these materials is often less than the cost of standard disposal fees because you receive some of the value back from recycling these materials; especially valuable ones, such as aluminum, copper, and other non-ferrous metals.
To determine how you can save money on your waste disposal fees on your next C&D project (while also doing something good for the environment), get in touch with an expert and ask them how they can help you recover in your area. Typically this consists of metals, wood, concrete, and gypsum, but more can be added to this list depending on the scope of your project.
Remember, you don’t need to spend more to be a more sustainable business, and do the right thing for the environment.
About the Author: Marc Spiegel is a Co-Founder and Head of Construction & Demolition Project Solutions at Rubicon Global, a technology company born in the waste and recycling industry. You can contact Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org.