Construction and demolition (C&D) debris is a significant and growing portion of the waste produced in Florida today. It accounts for almost 25% of Florida's total Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream. More than 350 million tons of materials are generated annually in the U.S. from the construction and demolition of roads, bridges, and buildings. The material generated is mostly concrete, asphalt, wood, drywall, metals, cardboard, and asphalt shingles.
Section 403.703 of the Florida Statues define C&D as “…discarded materials generally considered to be not water-soluble and nonhazardous in nature, including, but not limited to, steel, glass, brick, asphalt roofing material, pipe, gypsum wallboard, and lumber from the construction or destruction of a structure as part of a construction or demolition project or from the renovation of a structure, and including rocks, soils, tree remains, trees, and other vegetative matter that normally results from land clearing or land development operations…”
In 2015, the Collier County Solid & Hazardous Waste Management Department reported a total of 418,820 tons of C&D material was diverted from the landfill. Of that, 83,764 tons were residential C&D material, and 335,056 tons were commercial C&D material.
Types of C&D Material for Reuse and Recycling
Wood: Wood debris accounts for 40-50% of the volume of the residential new construction waste stream. The most common reuse options for wood is mulch, industrial fuel, composting operations, animal bedding, and some building products.
Cardboard: Cardboard debris accounts for 11-30% of the C&D waste stream by volume. Corrugated cardboard is the most common building packaging material. It is a key component of the C&D waste stream because many building materials are shipped to the site in a pre-fabricated state. It is one of the most readily recyclable materials in the C&D waste stream as long as it is not wet. Recycling cardboard can benefit builders because it takes up considerable space in the waste containers.
Gypsum Drywall: Drywall is a major component of C&D debris and accounts for approximately 8-15% of jobsite waste. Disposing of drywall in landfills, can be problematic, as it decomposes, drywall produces hydrogen sulfides (H2S), causing a foul-smelling and potentially toxic gas. As a result, many landfills are prohibiting gypsum drywall. The Collier County Landfill is a Class I landfill that prohibits the burial of gypsum drywall. Clean gypsum drywall can be ground up and used in soil amendments, as a raw ingredient for the manufacture of Portland cement, as animal bedding, as a bulk agent in composting, or recycled into new drywall.
Carpet: Carpet accounts for 2% of the MSW stream by volume. The recycling rate for carpet reported in 2011 was 7%. Carpet America Recovery Effort's Annual Survey estimates a total of 333 million pounds of carpeting was diverted from U.S. landfills in 2011, of that 250 million pounds were recycled. Carpet tile is currently the ideal product for refurbishment and reuse due to its flexibility and durability.
Asphalt Shingles: Shingles comprise approximately 6% of the C&D waste stream by volume. Asphalt shingles can be recycled into new shingles, crushed and used as an aggregate in the manufacture of hot mix asphalt, or as a primary material for rural roads. Shingles can also be used on site as base material for concrete flatwork such as driveways and sidewalks.
Brick: Brick is one of the most environmentally friendly and efficient building materials on the market. It acts as a natural insulator, is extremely durable and long-lasting, and produces little waste when manufactured. Recycled brick is broken down into brick chips and used for landscaping or aggregate for new construction material. Recycled brick does not loose its properties and is as durable as the original product.
Concrete: Concrete is one of the most recycled materials in the United States. Recycled concrete is stronger and more durable than virgin concrete. Crushed concrete and brick can be used as the primary surface material on rural roads and driveways, and in drainage applications. A common practice in South Florida is to use "clean" concrete as lake fill for the reclamation of borrow fill pits (where excavation has resulted in the creation of permanent surface water bodies). Clean concrete and clear heavy gauge steel can also be recycled through the countie's Artificial Reef Program. Concrete waste components are also sometimes used as daily cover and road based materials in landfills.
Metal: Scrap metal recycling has many important benefits, and plays a powerful role in supporting both environmental and economic outcomes. Recycling is highly successful in diverting metal scrap from landfills. It provides raw material for new products, offering a much lower carbon footprint and more efficient utilization of resources than new material. Aside from environmental benefits, metal recycling is an extremely powerful economic activity, generating over $64 billion in the U.S. in 2010, (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries). C&D metal is usually found in form of wiring, siding, fasteners, and roof flashing.
Screened Materials: Other recovered C&D materials consist of left overs from screening mix at a processing facility. Screened material is comprised of mostly dirt, but can also contain small fragments of wood, rock, paper, drywall, and plastic. This material accounts for 25% or more of the recovered waste stream at some facilities.
Benefits of C&D Recycling
Businesses in the construction, remodeling, roofing, and demolition industries benefit from recycling.
Reduces disposal and transportation costs, and the cost of new construction materials by recycling old materials on site.
Reduces the environmental impact of producing new materials.
Saves energy and reduces the production of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
Conserves landfill airspace.
Reduces the need for new landfills.
Recycling generates reuse for certain materials.
Types of C&D Materials That Can Not Be Recycled
Certain types of materials collected from C&D projects are considered toxic or classified as hazardous waste. Types of hazardous C&D materials include latex and lead paint, chemical solvent, adhesives and asbestos. For information on the proper disposal of hazardous materials, please visit our "Hazardous Materials Management Webpage."
Facts and information on this web page compiled from various sources including About.com, Brighthub.com, American Iron and Steel Institute, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Masonrymagazine.com, gypsumrecycling.com, and recyclecddebris.com.