The Dunn Landfill in Rensselaer, N.Y., pictured above, occupies 80 acres in this 3.3-square-mile city. New York City, 150 miles south, is the source of much of the construction debris dumped in the landfill, which sits less than a mile from the local public school complex and this baseball field where children play. | David Ellis of Rensselaer Environmental Coalition
“It’s a huge waste stream that has big potential for recyclability but needs both the infrastructure and the legislation to make that happen,” said Justin Green, executive director of Big Reuse, a nonprofit organization that works on repurposing building materials. As far back as 2003, city officials were looking for ways to curb construction waste that ended up in landfills. “It is the right thing to do, for the environmental benefits of resource conservation, energy savings and pollution prevention,” the Department of Design and Construction, which oversees municipal projects, urged in a report 17 years ago.