Job Site Waste: What You Can Do

Construction job sites can get messy.

According to research from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 170 million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris were generated in the U.S. in 2003. Of that amount, 61% of the debris came from nonresidential construction and demolition, and the remaining 39% came from residential sources.

Recycling produces benefits for both the environment and for the contractors, construction companies and builders. Eco Building Pulse stated in a 2008 article that it can actually be more cost-effective to reuse materials than to haul them to the local landfill. Not only can it save companies money, but it can also help to save the environment. Repurposing leftover building materials is a green alternative to landfill disposal that’s good for the earth and you.

Where to go With all the Waste

There are a number of options for contractors and builders looking for places to go with their unneeded or leftover building materials. One organization, the Construction Materials Recycling Association, offers numerous ways for builders to recycle their job site waste.

On-Site Recyling

One innovative technique that has been used is on-site recycling of gypsum drywall. In this process, a specialized mobile grinder is brought directly to the site. Scraps of drywall from new construction are loaded into the grinder where it is processed. Then, the ground up drywall is eventually reused in the form of a soil amendment or a plant nutrient. This is just one of many ways that recycling gypsum can help you go green – literally. 

Habitat For Humanity’s Restore

Many people are familiar with the well-known non-profit Habitat for Humanity. The organization also owns a number of Habitat for Humanity ReStores, which are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers. They accept of a number of building materials and home items that are resold and repurposed, with proceeds from the store going toward building homes for low-income families. Many of the stores also offer free pick-up of large donation items, making job site recycling much easier. To find a ReStore in your area, visit Habitat for Humanity’s website

Turn Drywall Into…More Drywall

Gypsum drywall consists of approximately 90% gypsum, a naturally occurring mineral, and 10% paper facing and backing. Since gypsum drywall is primarily made up of gypsum, a large percentage of the gypsum used in drywall can be salvaged and recycled, provided that the majority of paper facing and backing are removed. The mineral itself has many uses outside of building and construction. In fact, gypsum is also used as a soil amendment and in the production of cement. In addition, it’s an ingredient in the manufacturing of many types of commercial products.

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

There are numerous ways to reuse and recycle unused drywall. Before hauling your waste away from a job, check to see if there is a local building materials recycling site near you. If you’re looking for more resources on where to donate, visit the EPA’s website for listings of organizations.

We’d love to hear more from you on how you reduce waste on the job. Comment below and let us know.

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