Demolition debris increasingly recycled into new products –

A really excellent article out of the Twin Cities.Com site. One of the more comprehensive news stories that captures the invisibility of demolition debris.

Chuck Alvord’s job used to be so simple.

Smash. Remove. Repeat.

But today, Alvord and others in the demolition business don’t destroy buildings as much as recycle them — and saving about 70 percent of what they find.

“When I started, we’d just take it all to the landfill,” said Alvord, the site superintendent for the demolition of a library in Minneapolis. Now, his buildings are carefully taken apart to separate the concrete, metals, wood, shingles and lights.

Buildings have become the surprising star of the recycling movement.

The 70 percent average of materials recycled is more than twice the recycling rate for cans, bottles, paper and plastic, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The demolition recycling rate has shot up in the past decade and now exceeds the weight of recycled materials from consumer sources.

“We do it because it’s good for the environment, and it’s good PR,” said Mike Taylor, director of the National Demolition Association. “And you can make billions of dollars doing it.”

The surge in building recycling has gone largely unnoticed, said Bill Turley, director of the Construction Materials Recycling Association.

“When you tear up a highway or take down a shopping center, the general public doesn’t realize how much goes into landfills,” Turley said.

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