Recent years have brought significant changes to the world of waste management, in large part because of increased environmental awareness and the realization that our world (at least as we know it) may not last forever. Increased levels of consumerism along with a surging population have given the issue an immediacy never before seen in human history.
Today, the average person generates about four pounds of waste every day, and the national recycling rate stands at about 34%. However, the EPA estimates that up to 75% of the U.S. waste stream could be recycled.
The waste problem becomes even more overwhelming during big projects that involve demolition, construction, or remodeling of buildings. Such projects can become stressful as the mountains of waste pile up. What’s more, this waste is cumbersome and unwieldy—it’s not a matter of a few aluminum cans or cardboard boxes that can be handled by curbside trash and recycling collection services. However, there are options available to help people dispose of this waste safely.
When in doubt about how to handle the unwanted waste resulting from construction or remodeling projects, always remember there are specialists out there who can answer your questions and offer advice. Your local garbage management company can help you figure out how to deal with unexpected amounts of extra debris safely. These agencies are always looking for ways to enhance their eco-friendliness, and they offer services to help people handle special kinds of waste.
Here are the three most important waste services to know about if you find yourself in the midst of a home construction or remodeling project.
While it’s true construction and demolition jobs produce a large amount of waste, it’s not always clear how it can be managed. Once the job is complete, all of the scrap metal, wood, carpeting, old tiles, drywall, and general debris will need somewhere to go. Your local landfill will likely accept much of these materials for a fee; you’ll also have to haul the debris there yourself. Be sure to call the facility ahead of time to learn how much it will cost and exactly what items are accepted. At the site, you might have to dispose of different items in different places; for example, there may be a special collection area for old appliances and another for scrap metal.
If you have a larger project or don’t wish to haul the waste yourself, you can call your municipal garbage collection company to see if they offer bulk waste collection and hauling. Again, be sure to ask about rates and what items they are able to take. Another option is to
contract with a construction and demolition debris hauling company that specializes in transporting such waste to appropriate disposal sites.
Much construction and demolition waste can be recycled. One of the most commonly recycled construction materials is steel—65 million tons of it are recycled each year in the U.S. However, it’s also possible to recycle concrete, tile and porcelain, lumber, insulation, and even drywall. Copper pipes, in particular, can fetch a high price in many areas—it’s so valuable that thieves often break into construction sites to steal it. Call your local garbage collection company or a construction and demolition waste hauler to see if they can haul and recycle your waste, and how much it will cost.
It’s also possible to recycle materials by reusing them. If you’re careful during demolition, you can avoid damaging glass windows and reuse them in a remodel—this is a good option because glass windows can be difficult to disassemble and recycle. Other reusable building materials and fixtures include cabinets, which can be spruced up by sanding them and applying a new coat of paint or varnish. Clean, scrap wood can be turned into mulch on site for your garden.
In addition, you may be able to donate used, undamaged construction materials to a reuse center. In many areas of California, for example, the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity maintains ReStores, which accept such donations as a way to provide low-cost building materials to people in need. Do a little Googling and find out where you can donate construction materials in your city.
Roll-Off Container Rentals
Probably the easiest option for handling construction waste is to rent a roll-off container or dumpster from a waste management or construction debris hauling company. You can toss all the debris from the job as you go, and when it’s full, the company will haul it away for disposal and/or recycling. There are typically some exceptions to the list of items that can be placed in the dumpster, and weight limits may apply. In addition, your city may impose rules about where the dumpster can be placed in a residential neighborhood or on the street; call beforehand to learn what is allowed.
Hundreds of millions of tons of municipal waste are produced annually in the U.S., and a great deal of it comes from large construction and demolition projects. Because this specific type of debris must be handled in a deliberate way to ensure the safety of people and the environment, it is important to seek the help of professionals.