Construction and Demolition Recycling Materials

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Construction and Demolition Recycling Guide

The County of San Diego’s Construction and Demolition Debris Recycling Ordinance requires that 90% of inerts and 70% of all other materials must be recycled from your project.  

How can debris be handled?

Materials can be source-separated on site or commingled and hauled off site to a sorting facility for separation and recycling. While source separation is generally preferable to commingling, there are pros and cons to both methods.

Recycle 90% of inert material

Recycle 70% of other material

  • Asphalt & Concrete
  • Brick/Masonry/Tile
  • Dirt
  • Mixed Inerts (mixed items must be taken to an approved mixed processing facility)
  • Appliances
  • Cabinets, Doors, Fixtures, Windows
  • Cardboard
  • Carpet
  • Padding/Foam (carpet)
  • Ceiling tile (acoustic)
  • Drywall (used)
  • Drywall (new, unpainted, or scrap)
  • Landscaping (brush, trees, stumps, etc.)
  • Mixed Recyclables
  • Roofing Materials
  • Scrap Metal
  • Stucco, Cement (no wire)
  • Unpainted Wood & Pallets

Source Separation

The source-separation of materials on site for recycling is generally more cost-effective than disposal or commingled recycling and yields an average facility recycling rate of 90+ percent. Source-separation also helps create higher-end markets for recyclables, such as the manufacture of new recycled-content building materials.

Commingled Recycling

On job sites where space is limited, having fewer recycling containers on site and commingling the recyclables can save valuable space. The recycling rate of commingled programs, however, has proved to be significantly lower than that of source-separation programs. In commingled programs, materials that have the potential to be recycled, such as drywall, carpet and ceiling tiles, are disposed of as garbage. The only way to quantify the amount of commingled materials recycled on a particular project is to use the recycling facility's recycling rate.

Prevent Jobsite Waste

Waste prevention, such as reusing salvaged building materials, not only cuts disposal costs but also reduces new material expenses.

Learn how to:

  • Design to prevent waste
  • Prevent waste on site
  • Purchase to prevent waste
  • Reuse and salvage
  • Select a salvage company
  • Take advantage of other reuse options

Design to Prevent Waste

A waste management plan should include these strategies:

Work with the client and designer to select designs that use materials efficiently.

Set waste prevention goals at the beginning of the project and target specific waste-producing activities.

Include waste management specifications, including types and numbers of bins and diversion requirements in construction documents.

Prevent Waste On Site

There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of waste produced on site.

Ask suppliers to take back or buy substandard, rejected or unused items.

Request that vendors deliver materials in returnable containers.

Review and modify storage-handling practices to reduce material loss from weather and other damage.

Purchase to Prevent Waste

Implement purchasing strategies that prevent waste.

Purchase good-quality, previously used building materials, such as cabinets, doors, and fixtures.

Choose materials that are delivered with minimal or no packaging.

Re-evaluate estimating procedures to ensure that the correct amount of each material is
delivered to the site.

Reuse and Salvage

Reuse items on site or donate and/or sell salvageable items to cut waste and reduce supply costs. When using a demolition contractor, specify reuse and salvage in the contract.

Identify potentially reusable or salvageable items before demolition.

Determine how salvaged items will be removed and whether they will be reused, donated or sold.

Contact salvage companies and non-profit organizations that purchase or accept donated
building materials.

Inform the demolition crew of salvage procedures and expectations.

Select a Salvage Company

When choosing a salvage company, be sure to ask the following questions.

What materials do you accept?

Are there minimum or maximum material volumes?

Will you pick up the materials at the job site?

Is there a charge for pick-up service?

Will you provide containers for large volumes?

Do you charge a container rental fee?

Will you pay for the materials?

Other Reuse Options

Many companies have success with less-formal reuse options.

Advertise reusable items in the newspaper, websites such as San Diego Freecycle or
Craigslist.

The Reuse People of America:
"We are a nonprofit, 501(c)3, corporation dedicated to keeping usable building materials out of our landfills and providing them for reuse. To date we have salvaged over 200,000 tons of usable building materials."

Conduct a "yard sale" at the job site to sell reusable items.

Allow workers to remove materials for their own use.

Post signs offering free materials to the general public.

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