An Overview on the Topic of Recycle Construction Waste!
Mahadev Desai is the Founder and CEO of gharpedia.com and SDCPL a leading design consultancy firm having strong national presence. He has a degree in Civil Engineering (BE) and Law (LLB) and has rich experience of 45 years. Besides being the Editor in Chief, he also mentors team at GharPedia. He is associated with many professional bodies. He is also co-founder of 1mnt.in the first in Industry software for contractors’ billing. He is a voracious reader, edited 4 books, and pioneer of book reading movement in Gujarat, India.
The construction business has always been one of the top most revenue generating industries in the world. This is especially the case in the United States’ construction market. But, did you know that the waste generated by the construction industries account for about one-third of all refuse worldwide? The answer might surprise you, but the real issue comes when you have to get rid of all the waste. It must be done by experts to make sure it will be appropriately handled. If you search for a bucks county dumpster rental, you will find many reliable companies that can take care of everything at an affordable price.
We must, however, mention that the construction sector is not devoid of changes and adaptations, depending on the world’s ecological requirements. Owing to its grandeur, the industry uses many different types of materials in large quantities, thus giving scope to construction businesses to recycle the same for better ROI and ecological development. You may also donate this waste to needy or to these NGOs who help the poor to build their houses. This is perhaps the best way to recycle construction waste.
Gradually, the world is waking up to the demands of eco-friendly construction site recycling. For instance, India has taken this concept a step further by building a recycling plant for construction and demolition materials. In fact, this has been so successful that it has saved river Yamuna from the overflowing landfills of Delhi, which had over 15.4 lakh tonnes of debris according to a 2014 report by The Hindu. The report adds that not only does the plant reduce the load at landfills, it also helps the environment as it uses treated effluents supplied from the Delhi Jal Board. You will also find that leftover construction debris on roads, streets and public places is a big source of dirt or debris that is being handled by authorities in India during “Clean India” drive, has such debris lying everywhere.
What is Construction Waste Recycling?
The separation and subsequent recycling of recoverable waste materials generated during construction and remodeling, is known as construction waste recycling.
This is a step towards sustainable development and is one among many methods to protect the environment across the world.
Sustainable Construction may come later in stage; it should start from the start so the Sustainable Architecture is the first approach we should adopt. Learn more,
Advantages of Recycling Construction Debris
There are several reasons why one should opt for recycling of scrap from construction sites, some of which include:
01. It yields significant economic and environmental benefits, as it basically saves natural resources and energy.
02. It conserves both energy and resources.
03. It contributes to the local economy.
04. Donating waste for reuse is far cheaper than dumping them in landfills. In fact, in all South Asian countries, including India, there are traders or dealer who deals in “scrap” materials only. They buy scrap or wastes from old building or sites in a lump sum. The godown or yards of such dealers are actually a “Home Depot” store for the poor, the one-stop solution to buy everything at lowest possible rates. Many times such dealers also do necessary processes on such materials or elements like doors/windows to put them in a state where they can be used without problem. Such dealers are available in all cities, and sometimes you find some really “antique” pieces also at a throw-away price.
05. It also attracts potential customers/clients who appreciate sustainable construction.
06. Donating materials to non-profit organizations can save tax.
07. Reusing construction waste for other construction projects can reduce the cost of the new building and by reducing investment on new materials.
08. Some waste materials have already established markets, such as cardboards, metal, reusable lumber and architecture salvage. One can also earn by selling construction scrap.
09. As per the Portland recycles plan, discarding waste creates 6 jobs while reusing the waste creates 26 jobs.
10. Keeping waste out of landfills reduces the effects of greenhouse gases on the climate.
11. Processing waste into new products needs less energy as compared to processing raw materials into new products.
12. Reusing preserves the embodied energy of the building that went into extracting the raw material, transporting the same to the construction site and ultimately disposing off the materials.
What to Reuse and How?
Depending on the demolition site and whether or not it is located in an area which has other inhabitants, the following materials can be reused or recycled:
- Old door, windows can be given as donation or can be used in affordable housing.
- Lumber and wood can be converted to mulch or biomass fuel.
- Vegetation and trees can go for replanting or biomass fuel if necessary.
- Cardboard and paper for pulping.
- Plastic crates, containers, sheets can be distributed among the needy or sent for recycling.
- Fixtures like sinks and baths can be used on other construction sites.
- Metals can be used for smelting and conversion into other products.
Some other materials that can be recycled are brick, concrete, gypsum wallboard, asphalt paving and shingles, non-asphalt roofing and shingles, glass etc.
Since we are talking about which recycle material we can use; here is one fact-check! Did you know that we can use up to 15% to 20% of Recycled Concrete Aggregate in Concrete? Is it tempting enough for you to know more about Recycled Aggregate, Read on:
It must also be mentioned here that some materials have a negative impact on health and environment if disposed in the landfill directly. For instance, lead, when it comes in contact with water, makes it toxic. Plasterboard releases hydrogen sulfide, which is a poisonous gas.
Challenges in Disposing Construction Waste
One of the major challenges of disposing construction waste is the sheer volume generated from these sites. Owing to the amount of sand, gravel and bricks, apart from other non-biodegradable waste like plastic, that are being produced, the landfills fill up easily. Moreover, construction waste is bulky, heavy and most suitable for disposal by composting or incineration. The growing population in India has also lead to the reduction in the number of landfills, thus posing further threat to the ecosystem. Unused industrial, construction and demolition sites are a common sight in India. Not knowing what to do with the construction waste and to reduce demolition costs, the proprietors choose to abandon their spaces without even bothering to dispose of the waste.
Tips to Recycle Scrap or Construction Waste
The best and smartest way to recycle waste is to let it be part of the new building or the new building site. For instance, in remodeling projects, the walls are not demolished, but are simply redecorated, realigned, moved or refigured.
Finding a way to transport the waste to the local recycling center, without spending an extra penny, would be a great idea. You could transport the material while going to fetch the raw material; or to save yourself the hassle, you can avoid producing waste altogether.
Building projects sometimes offer standard dimensions of raw materials or reused material. Go with it because the lesser the cut, less the wastage. It also saves time and effort. For example, framing layouts can be planned to use standard wood lengths. Standard dimensions also make it easier to reuse any material that is left over.
Get a hold of organizations that collect reusable fixtures to be used in housing projects. This might reduce taxes to a great extent, but most importantly, it is safer for the environment and ecology. If that does not materialize, get involved in an industrial yard sale, which might include the sale of radiators, grates, piping, appliances, fittings et al.
You can also get in touch with NGOs that run on donations. In fact, there are several organizations that provide end-to-end waste management solutions and act as a link between the waste generator and the user. These entities recycle the waste material into reusable products, thereby reducing the pressure on landfills. In fact, resorting to these organizations ensures that the waste is transported and recycled by using eco-friendly methods and supplied to the needy in a guilt-free manner. If you visit the slums of India, you will find that 70 to 80% of the materials used in the construction of their houses are waste from large sites or old houses. Prince Charles of England, during his visit to India a decade ago, had commented that ”Dharavi Slums” in Mumbai, where more than 400 thousand (4 lakhs) people live are perhaps the most green settlement as it was built with all recycled or waste materials. Even the green building certification guidelines by IGBC or USGBC provides for donating such waste to poor or NGOs.
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
It is a pre-conceived notion that recycled products are either contaminated or unfit for re-use. However, that is not the case. These materials are re-used only after determining their strength, by primary or secondary crushing and by subsequent removal of impurities. The percentage of water absorption is the second factor accounted for before using the used items. In recycled materials, the aggregates range from 3-12%. These aggregates are considered perfect for building flexible pavements and for generating concrete that is used in rigid pavements down the line.
Still have doubts? Calculate the amount that goes into demolition and disposal of waste. Most likely, it would be much higher than reconstruction, restructuring and reusing. This has been realized by many, including entities from housing boards to corporate offices was have adopted this method to save on tax and reduce the cost of construction.
Hope you will get the idea of how to recycle construction waste.
Pallavi Sen Gupta – Pallavi Sen Gupta: Knowledge increases when you share it. I could not have agreed more had I not experienced this practically as a journalist and a writer for the past 12 years. Now I dig and dive into anything I see and translate it into paper for others to know.