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The 5 Benefits of Recycling Demolition Debris

It’s amazing what you can do with a few scraps. We’re talking about building materials that were once destined for the dumpster, now being reused to create something new and wonderful!

What is Demolition Debris?

Demolition debris is waste debris from the destruction of buildings, roads, bridges, or any other structures.

It varies in composition, but the majority of it includes concrete, wood products, asphalt shingles, bricks and clay tile, steel, and drywall.

Why is it important to Recycle Demolished Material? What Does Recycling Construction Debris Encourage?


1. Creates Jobs and Stimulates the Economy

Austin Texas created over 6,300 jobs and $1.1 billion in overall activity in 2018 because of recycling construction debris.

Contractors help in making jobs and giving other people jobs by donating and recycling construction and demolition materials.

2. Reduces Harmful Emissions

Hydrogen sulfide gas is a current problem in landfills that contain construction debris so recycling things like drywall would be able to reduce health risks and unpleasant odors that the gas creates.

3. Conserves Landfill Spaces

Construction and demolition debris accounted for over 21 percent of the total wastes taken to landfills in Texas in 2019 according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), being the recycling demolition debris second-largest waste stream in Texas.

It can expand the lifespan of regional landfills and help in reducing the long-term expenses to the community in maintaining the landfills that are already existing and prevent them from building new ones.

4. Preserves Natural Resources

The 3 Rs are a great way in helping preserve natural resources and it includes construction debris. Reusing and recycling construction demolition debris helps conserve natural resources.

By using this debris for road construction or building a new structure, reduces the need for harvesting natural stone and reduces landfill waste.

5. Tax Deductions

The building owners would rather deconstruct a building instead of demolishing it. The contractors could salvage materials and channel them back into the marketplace.

The tax benefits for the building owners who donate materials to qualified organizations deduct the extra cost of the deconstruction project. The after-tax value typically is about 35% of the total appraisal

What are the Sources of Construction Waste?

1. Materials Budgeting and Procurement

A construction company may slightly overestimate the number of materials that were needed for the construction that they were going to do since it is an easier problem than ordering too few. Once the whole construction is over, the excess materials become waste. It is often suitable for reuse, if not, it can be recycled.

2. Demolition

These are the piles of rubble the project creates that will require some form of disposal.

Demolition projects generally do produce more waste materials and many of the waste materials created through demolition are recyclable, maybe even reusable if in an acceptable condition.

3. Building Processes

Materials such as wood, glass, metal, and concrete that come from construction, restoration, or remodeling projects that after the construction is over, may be reused, sold, or recycled instead of sending them to the landfill.

Construction Waste Disposal Methods

1. Reuse: People usually ask, “can demolition waste be reused?” Well, the answer is yes. Reusing materials is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly disposal method.

2. Recycling: Construction companies, homes, and offices recycled materials like plastic and aluminum.

3. Treatment and Disposal: This usually happens with hazardous wastes that often require treatment before disposal. Once it is neutralized, it is then brought to a landfill for disposal.

4. Land Disposal: Landfills usually ensure proper disposal of wastes. Some hazardous items could be dumped in a landfill to prevent leaks and ensure environmental protection.

5. Alternative Disposal Methods: Construction companies sometimes choose alternatives like incineration or waste-to-fuel options instead of sending the waste materials to the landfill.

Types of Waste in Construction

Here are a few demolition materials examples:

1. Concrete: This is the most common type of demolition debris. Crushed reinforced concrete is in high demand as a recycled material.

2. Ceramic and Tile: If they are in good condition, tile and ceramic can have some value for reuse in new projects. If it is not, it may also be sold or sent away for recycling.

3. Wood: A good amount of the waste materials are wood, which comes from roof beams, wall supports, and torn-up hardwood floors. If they are in good condition, especially whole timbers must undergo cleaning, detailing, and sizing before going on to be reused.

4. Bricks: Bricks are also an ideal type for reuse for sure, as long as they have retained their structural integrity after demolition. These may include contaminants like mortar and plaster (but these can reduce the value of the bricks for reuse)

5. Glass: Construction and demolition also use glass a lot, especially when they are creating buildings. The glass could be reused, or it can be recycled and melted down into new products, and crushed in as concrete or repurposed for fiberglass.

6. Plastic: Plastic components on the roof and walls could become waste after demolition, and plastic piping, cable ducting, polyvinyl chloride siding and window components, smoke detectors and light switch covers,

7. Insulation Materials (Cellulose, Fiberglass, Foams, Natural fibers, Perlite, Polyisocyanurate, Polystyrene, Polyurethane, and Vermiculite): If the waste insulation materials contain even the smallest amount of asbestos, they can still be hazardous as well. They cannot reuse these materials and have to dispose of them accordingly.

8. Stone and Clay

9. Soil: They cannot sell the dirt that becomes extras during construction so construction companies have to pay for a landfill or quarry disposal as well. It is often up to $200 per truckload.

10. Ferrous Metal: Iron, steel, and their alloys come from old pipes in demolition projects and are of high value for reuse and recycling. It also has a long life span across many different construction projects.

11. Non Ferrous Metal: These are metals other than iron that are also of high value in reuse and recycling. These metals are aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc. Electrical wiring also contains valuable recyclable materials.

12. Drywall: Drywall is made of gypsum wallboard which often contains flue gas desulfurization gypsum. Often, recycling these are pulverized into tiny pieces and those fine particles are used in soil amendments like fertilizer and soil conditioner.

13. Other Dredging Waste (Rocks, Shrubs, Tree stumps, Tree branches, and Whole trees): These are the natural objects that are removed as the company prepares an empty site for the construction of the building.

14. Asphalt: Shingles can be highly recyclable because of their asphalt content that could be used in asphalt pavements.

15. Hazardous Wastes (Adhesives, Aerosol cans, Asbestos, Fluorescent bulbs, Formaldehyde, Mercury, Platerboars, Paint, Paint thinners, Paint strippers, and Solvents): Since hazardous wastes pose a danger to humans and the environment so the construction sites need to abide by the state and federal regulations.

There are many reasons why you should recycle demolition debris, but one thing we should remember is that we should prioritize our safety, and the environment, no matter how we dispose of our construction debris.

Need help? Our guys at Big Easy Demolition can help with any demolition debris removal!

More from Big Easy Demolition

Signs that a Building Needs to Be Demolished
How to Choose the Right Demolition Contractor
How Do You Get Rid of Demolition Debris?

Big Easy Demolition is a licensed and insured company providing demolition services for both home and business.

We proudly serve the areas of Metairie, Slidell, New Orleans, Kenner, Laplace, and all throughout the Greater New Orleans area.