Guide to construction salvage and recycling

December 20, 2017 – 08:01 am

photo of a construction site debris binRecycling, salvaging and reusing construction waste can reduce disposal costs and save resources.

Save money

As much as 90 percent of your construction waste could be salvaged or recycled at a lower cost than disposal. While garbage disposal fees in the Portland metropolitan area are about $94 per ton, most construction waste can be dropped off at a recycling facility for fees ranging from free to $35 per ton when it is sorted out. And when you recycle, you not only save money, but you also help conserve natural resources.

1. Research options.

  • Investigate recycling and disposal options before the job begins.
  • Work with your hauler or recycler to determine what materials should be separated for recycling.

2. Place bins carefully.

  • Place recycling bins in a location that will prevent misuse or contamination. Even a small amount of garbage in a load of recyclables makes the entire load unacceptable for recycling.

3. Educate subcontractors.

  • Clearly identify recycling areas with large signs.
  • Educate subcontractors about what materials will be recycled for the project. Include recycling in their subcontracts.
  • Teach subcontractors to keep lunch bags, caulking tubes and other garbage out of the recycling areas.

4. Coordinate pickup.

  • Work with your hauler or recycler to coordinate pickup and delivery.

photo of concrete and rebar debrisEasy salvage steps

  1. Consider deconstruction instead of mechanical demolition. Determine whether the structure is a good candidate for deconstruction or disassembly by hand. Find a firm to help you evaluate the potential for salvage and deconstruction in the salvage section of Metro’s Construction, Salvage and Recycling Toolkit.
  2. Remove salvageable items as early in the project as possible. Allow time for this at the front end of the project schedule.
  3. Look for salvage opportunities as the project progresses. For example, removing carpet may reveal salvageable hardwood flooring.

A few definitions

Deconstruction: The systematic hand or mechanical disassembly of a building structure in reverse order of assembly in order to reharvest the building materials and minimize the environmental impacts of demolition.

Mixed construction debris: Several types of construction and demolition debris combined in one container. Mixed debris can be taken to a drop-off site for recycling, as long as loads are free of household garbage, food, liquid and hazardous waste.

Source separated: Similar materials that are separated from other waste according to categories such as wood, drywall, metal, etc.


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