The 2015 version of Eco Expo Asia will focus on the theme “Embracing a Green and Sustainable Future” and will include additional targeted themes on certain days, including “Cleaner Production and Waste Management,” “Green Building and Energy Efficiency,” “Global Green Insights,” and “Green Living.”
While it’s true that the “3Rs” have become a catalyzing movement of our times, the “reuse” part of this waste management trilogy is often overlooked. Thanks to ReuseConex, the International Reuse Conference & Expo, this is about to change!
If you work with a local reuse organization, if you shop at thrift stores or online resellers, if you buy or sell reusables, if you’re interested in green-collar jobs, and if you’re concerned about climate change – then join us for ReuseConex!
The theme for ReuseConex 2014 is Innovate. Transform. Sustain. — and we hope you’ll join us while we explore new methods and replicable models to make reuse work for your community. At ReuseConex you will find out more about the “triple bottom line” benefits of reuse, learn from and share best practices, and network with leaders in the reuse industry. Join us!
Someone should really let the booming construction industry know that the market conditions are suffering…
In a statement issued Thursday, Waste Management blamed the decision on current economic realities.
“In 2010, WM purchased Glacier, made a number of upgrades to the facility so that we could expand our recycling efforts in C & D,” said WM Senior Communications Manager Robin Freedman. “At that time, market conditions were strong and it was a viable business. Unfortunately the market conditions have dramatically changed, so it no longer makes financial sense to remain open.”
As W.B. Yeats could have put it, ours is no country for old buildings. Each year, countless aging and outdated structures are dispatched by our $4 billion demolition industry. Even the recent economic retrenchment has hardly altered the nation’s out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new mind-set. In 2010 alone, an estimated 104 million tons of materials flowed in from project sites all over the country, accounting for as much as 40 percent of the U.S.’s annual solid-waste stream. The garbage comprises not only rubble and rotting beams, but also countless odds and ends from new construction such as cast-off nails and packaging. So whether they’re putting something up or taking something down, architects are indirectly making a mess.
What happens to buildings that we’ve replaced? The general procedure for clearing a site has remained more or less consistent for decades: Client contracts with architect, architect contracts with general contractor, who hires a demolition firm that turns refuse over to hauling company, and hauling company drops it off at the dump. Salvageable building parts, such as floorboards, tile, and windows, that could be pulled from the wreckage are often not, since few people know who might buy them and for how much, or where to stow them in the meantime. Likewise, taking the recycling route—in which materials are broken down into their constituent parts, reprocessed, and resold as new and, most likely, different products—could introduce a swarm of logistical challenges that builders have little incentive to pursue, particularly with so many cheap landfills nearby. As a result, with the exception of scrap metal, structural materials such as concrete (which can be recycled) often end up in the trash as well.
A Rebirth in Recycling
We are moving away from the status quo of how we handle our construction and demolition waste for many reasons. Dumping has become more expensive and thus less appealing for contractors and clients, says William Turley, executive director of the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA), a national umbrella organization based in Eola, Ill., that represents 245 waste-management companies that give a second life to concrete, wood, and steel. Compared to Europe, which recycles an estimated 46 percent of its construction and demolition waste, the U.S. recycles at a rate of 30 percent. “Landfill prices [here] are still very low, but they’re getting higher,” Turley says.
The December 2011 issue of Qualified Remodeler featured a story about deconstruction (page 18), which prompted a reader to ask whether the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule impacts the reuse of building materials.
The Chicago-based Building Materials Reuse Association also was concerned about how RRP would affect the deconstruction and salvage industry. In January 2010, BMRA submitted a letter to EPA in which it asked EPA to help interpret the scope of the rule. Bob Falk, Ph.D., P.E., research engineer with the USDA Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis., and BMRA’s current president, says the letter specifically asked “Does the RRP rule apply to the salvage and reuse of building materials or components that may contain lead-based paint from target housing?”
The letter asked EPA to comment about BMRA’s interpretation of the rule, which is as follows: “While the rule does make reference to ‘waste management’ and addresses the disposition of ‘waste’ and ‘debris,’ we could find no reference to the disposition of salvaged building materials intended for reuse. As the RRP rule does not explicitly address the disposition of nonwaste materials, our interpretation is that the salvage and reuse of building materials that may contain lead-based paint is outside the scope of the RRP rule. We further assume that state regulations will dictate the reuse, resale or disposal of lead-based-paint-coated materials.”