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C&D Insights - Recycling vs. Not Recycling

Successful C&D recycling, like other types of recycling, must make economic sense. Effective hauler contract negotiations and accurate record keeping are crucial.

In contract negotiations with a hauler or haulers it is essential that the following information be obtained:

  • Tipping rates for landfill disposal;
  • Processing fees for all recyclables to be collected;
  • Distances to market/recyclers, as well as to the disposal site;
  • Hauling costs for both recycling and waste; and
  • Any revenue returns for material sales (including both reuse and recycling).

Put this data in a spreadsheet for easy comparison. Negotiating with the hauler may help get some materials hauled at no cost, in return for the hauler keeping revenues (such as metals and cardboard); some materials, such as clean wood can often be hauled at a lower rate. Apply avoided cost calculating—that is, calculate the costs of actually recycling a material vs. what it would have cost to dispose of the same material.

An easy formula for comparing recycling vs. waste disposal:

Number of trash dumpsters x haul rate x tip fee…

Making $ense of C&D Recycling

As with any recycling program it's not enough to have a plan and to know where the materials are going, you have to know the economics of implementing the program. Depending on the markets in your area, waste reduction, reuse, and recycling on the C&D jobsite can result in waste diversion of 60-95%. But does this translate into economic savings for the construction or demolition site? In many instances, yes, especially in areas with relatively high tip fees for solid waste disposal. Economic and diversion data for C&D recycling projects can be found on the Internet; a good source of project analysis is on the WasteCap Resource Solutions'website.

At one WasteCap project, a large construction job (460,000 square feet), completed by Mortenson Construction, achieved a recycling rate of 97.96%. Materials recycled included, metal, wood, concrete, and cardboard. For this $70 million job, 9,588 tons of materials were recycled and $700,000 saved. On another, smaller project, a 90% recycling rate was achieved. This resulted in 231 tons diverted to recycling and a savings of $6,000.

One beneficial way to approach C&D recycling at larger sites is to develop vendor lists and allow…

C&D Recycling - It’s all about the Markets!

Just as with any recyclable material, construction and demolition recycling doesn't happen without markets.

On a demolition or renovation job, markets start with reuse for unwanted or surplus materials. Get buy-in from the project authority and put reuse as a priority in bid specifications and contracts. Select a coordinator for this aspect of the project. On demolition/deconstruction jobs, determine who controls the debris (does it belong to the owner, contractor, deconstruction or reuse person hired, or is it being done solely as a donation project and materials will be given away).

Identify target materials for reuse—including beams, hard wood floors, architectural salvage, doors, hardware, sinks, marble, kitchen cabinets, and light fixtures. (Caution: watch out for items that may contain lead, such as piping). Contact deconstruction or salvage operations, local architectural antique dealers, Materials Exchanges in the Northeast, nonprofit organizations (such as Habitat for Humanity, other building reuse organizations), artists, schools, and other potential reuse outlets. Determine storage needs and timing for removal of materials. A "reuse plan" is helpful to…

American Chemistry Council Renews Support for NERC Social Marketing Program

NERC is pleased to report that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has generously renewed its support for the NERC social marketing program.  It is through their support, and that of the Steel Recycling Institute, that NERC is able to provide a Facebook page, Twitter account, and now its Blog.  Thank you ACC!


Submitted by Mary Ann Remolador

The Importance of School Recycling

Do schools have an obligation to recycle? For most of us schools are an integral part of our early life—teachers are our mentors, books our tools for exploring the world. Civic lessons teach us the importance of obeying laws and voting. Hands-on activities, such as recycling and picking-up after ourselves, help to make us conscientious and concerned adults.

Schools should inspire passion. Many of us grew up with the "Crying Indian" and its strong visual image against litter. It became our responsibility to pick up after ourselves and not just throw our trash on the ground. Schools reinforced this message, helping us to realize that we a can make a difference in our community—that we care about ourselves, our family, and our community. School recycling can inspire students to care about the planet, to examine the resources that we use to make our world sustainable, to look at the consequences of using resources and generating pollution and waste.

Schools help to shape the habits that we continue as adults. Students who participate in recycling now will have more of an incentive to carry on this "habit" as adults. We learn as children the benefits of recycling, how…

Looking for Markets?

Check out the Free Northeast Regional Recycling Markets Database. The Recycling Markets Database is a valuable tool for helping residents, municipalities, and businesses in the Northeast find places that reuse, recycle, and compost materials they no longer need or want. The database provides free access to more than 1,400 reuse, recycling, and composting facilities and service providers.

Searching the Database is quick and easy. Users can search by material type, geography, or by business type (e.g., processor, hauler, broker, end-user). The Database offers 17 primary, searchable material categories, ranging from electronics to organics. Each primary category is subdivided into secondary material types to allow for refined searches, with more than 150 secondary material categories. From paper to pallets, cell phones to plastics, you'll find it listed on the Recycling Markets Database. Even outlets for "hard-to-recycle" items, such as mattresses, or unusual items like wine corks, or materials requiring special handling like solvents and paints, can be found on the database. Reuse and recycling markets for industrial by-products and other business-specific…

A New Adventure for NERC — Bringing C&D Recycling Training to Puerto Rico

With funding from EPA, Region II and the Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, NERC will be holding two C&D Recycling Trainings for contractors, architects, and recycling and reuse specialists in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The trainings, to be held in September 2012, will be presented by WasteCap Resource Solutions. NERC is partnering with the Puerto Rico Recycling Partnership, the USGBC U.S. Caribbean Chapter, and the Autoridad de Desperdicios Solidos for the trainings.



According to the US EPA, solid waste management in this island community continues to be a challenge due to Puerto Rico's sensitive island ecosystem and limited disposal space. Puerto Rico residents have lower recycling rates and produce more waste than people living on the USA mainland. Much of Puerto Rico's solid waste goes to one of the 5,320 square mile Island's more than 25 landfills. According to EPA, "the…

Zero Waste Special Events

I said it—the "Z" word!

Zero waste containers photo

For me, special events are a perfect opportunity for introducing the topic of zero waste in a community. Special events present a microcosm of our society. People gather, they do activities together, and they generate a lot of waste. Special events present an opportunity for hands-on education about composting and zero waste. Recycling and composting can be successfully implemented at virtually any type of special event. Now is the time to begin planning for implementing zero waste at a special event. Take advantage of this year's event to conduct a waste assessment, introduce the concept to event organizers, food vendors, and volunteers, and get a handle on necessary tasks for successful implementation.

Implementing a "zero waste" or "near zero" event seems like an impossible task to many event organizers. Sure, events frequently offer recycling, a very laudable undertaking. However, taking that next step—to…

US Recycling Archives Project

The other morning Michael Alexander (formerly from NERC, NRC, and now president of Recycle Away) stopped into NERC's office in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. He was lugging a hefty book of National Recycling Coalition (NRC) records from the late 1980s. He wanted to know if we had any ideas on what to do with it. Fortunately I had read recently about the "U.S. Recycling Archives project."

This neat project was started by Neil Seldman, president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Dan Knapp, co-founder of Urban Ore, and others. The project is housed at the University of Illinois-Springfield.

The University will act as a repository for documents, videos, tapes, and books relating to the recycling movement. According to the ILSR website, "the archives will allow for future historical research and models for citizen and community based initiatives in the environmental and economic development sectors."

The U.S. Recycling Archives project is seeking documents, graphics and anything else relating to the history of recycling in the United States. Contact…

National Professional Certification Standard for Recyclers

Currently there is no national professional certification standard to support state or provincial training programs for the recycling and resource management industry. Cities, institutions, and businesses are increasingly adopting sustainability, resource management, and/or zero waste policies. A trained and qualified workforce is best suited to meet the needs of a changing world, where budgets for recycling professionals are limited and programs are geared toward "cost efficiencies."

The Recycling Organizations of North America (RONA) has set out to change this with its recent adoption of "The Plan for National Standards for Certifying Sustainable Resource Management Training Programs and Professionals." The process was initiated by RONA and the California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA), who collaborated on a federally-funded project to develop new resource management curriculum and a certification process.

A National Standards Certification Board has recently been created to oversee governance and implementation of the Plan.

Check out the "featured news" section on the RONA homepage for more information and updates. We welcome your input into the process!…