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Most construction and demolition waste generated in the US is lawfully destined for disposal and removal in landfills regulated under Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 40, subtitles D and C.  Sometimes this waste is unlawfully dumped on land or in natural drainages including water which goes against regulations that are put in place to protect human health, commerce and the environment.  Businesses and citizens of the US legally dispose of millions of tons of building related waste in solid waste landfills each year. Large volumes of construction waste have been starting to be removed from the waste stream through a process known as diversion.  Diversion is used when waste is removed and reused and sorted for recycling.  Most recently, the construction industry awareness of disposal and reuse has been recognized in order to reduce the volume of construction and demolition waste that is disposed of in landfills.

There are many opportunities to help reduce and recover materials that would be disposed as waste.  Construction professionals and building owners can educate their teams about the benefits of reuse, effective strategies on how to identify and separate waste and how to promote appropriate ways of reducing total waste disposal.  Organizations and governments can provide stable business-friendly environments for collecting, processing and repurposing of waste.  Businesses can create value through the return of wastes back to the manufacturing processes, seeking out opportunities to reuse the recycled materials into products and reducing building-related waste through efficient practices.

Effective management of building-related waste requires the government, businesses and professional groups to work together.  Management of building-related waste is expensive but when you reduce, reuse and recycle it helps minimize waste and cause reusing of materials that can be used in design and construction activity.  Some waste generated during construction can be eliminated such as wood waste associated with fabricated plywood and dimensional lumber.  Durable modular metal form systems can be used in concrete since it is readily demountable and reusable for other projects.  (If you choose to use recyclable materials that will minimize waste as well as asking for your products to be shipped with minimal packaging).  If you have doors and windows in good, resealable condition they can be used for another project or can be a substitute for new products.  Materials and products which cant be eliminated, minimized or reused should be collected and disposed at the lowest cost.  In many parts of the country, disposal fees at solid waste landfills are much higher than the cost of separation and recovery.

In the United States, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) designates hazardous waste as waste that presents a serious risk to human health and the environment when not managed properly.  Several elements of construction and demolition materials are considered RCRA hazardous waste and must meet all of the regulatory management requirements for hazardous waste.

Most construction and demolition debris is generated at the project level and is subject to laws by local, state and federal agencies.  Local initiatives and disposal of construction and demolition waste are often due to the availability of suitable disposal sites, economic conditions, societal priorities, availability of markets for recycling and reuse and the capabilities of local workforces to adopt demolition process to manage waste. The project level is made up with the work of a specific project and is ran by the project team, often led by the architect or engineer during the design phase.  These requirements are often communicated through project specifications and contract provisions.  Green building certification programs, such as LEED, include protocols and documentation that can help aid you and ensure the project goals are completed.

The organizational level uses the management of waste identified at the project level and includes the business practices and priorities of building owners and general contractors.  Provisions are often communicated through corporate reports, policy statements and work plans.  Organizations can work with vendors at the disposition level to ensure that business practices and operation of segregation, sorting, transporting and final disposition of waste meets or exceeds corporate expectations.  Segregation, sorting, handling, transporting and final disposition of waste is administered by the businesses and agencies responsible for disposal under contract or agreement and in accordance with all laws and regulations in the disposition level.  Written reports are often the preferred method of communication and provide the amounts of materials accepted and disposed and the locations of the final disposition of the materials.  Service providers can work with building owners and general contracts for project-specific approaches to managing waste.

Waste is made up of all of the materials and products incorporated into the environment over a period of time.  This includes pavement and organic plant materials.  The assessment of waste that needs to be done on a project is the first step you should take in developing a construction and demolition waste management plan.  Industrial hygienists perform waste characterization studies and identify components which present known risks to humans and the environment. Specialty contractors provide comprehensive services for identification, verification, removal, handling and disposal of known and suspect hazardous materials.

Materials and products that present risk:

  • Hazardous wastes (listed, characteristic and universal types identified by US EPA)
  • Asbestos-containing materials
  • Lead-containing materials
  • Products containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Solvents, chemicals, petroleum derived products
  • Dust
  • Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps ( Mercury Containing Light Ballasts)
  • Electronics (Batteries)
  • Medical waste
  • Materials contaminated with waste

Materials and products typically benign:

  • Woody and plant materials
  • Concrete
  • Gravel, aggregate, stone and rock
  • Masonry and rubble
  • Metals (ferrous and non-ferrous)
  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Doors and windows
  • Asphaltic roofing
  • Gypsum board
  • Carpet and pads
  • Cardboard and paper
  • Plumbing and fixtures
  • Lighting fixtures

Best Management Practices:

Job Site Sorting – efficient identification and sorting of materials are implemented at the project level by superintendents and project managers.  They utilize project specifications prepared by architects and engineers for information on diversion target rates and general performance requirements.  Materials may be sorted into a number of containers for specific types of waste on the job site.

Collection and Hauling – containers containing construction and demolition waste are collected and transported to diversion facilities by trucks.

Tipping – (identification of loads on arrival at construction and demolition debris are important to ensure the materials are appropriately handled).  Facility management will know which materials can be accepted and those that are not accepted will be turned away and most likely disposed in a sanitary landfill.  The four hazardous waste characteristics are: corrosivity, ignitability, reactivity and toxicity.

Picking – materials are typically handled with equipment specifically designed to support heavy loads and resist abrasion.  Materials are discharged from containers onto a tipping floor and a wheel loader will stockpile materials which will be picked through.  Steel reinforcing bar, carpeting, large pieces of wood, concrete and materials with dimensions greater than 3 feet are usually picked out before the sorting process.

Sorting – materials are loaded onto a chain belt and passed across a manual storyline.  Materials are identified, grabbed and deposited in vertical openings at each sort station.

Containerization and transport — picked and sorted materials are deposited into industrial containers of various types.  Combination compactor-balers are used in some applications to produce dense bales of materials which are then loaded into shipping containers to be transported.  Containers of all types are destined for local, regional, national and international transport via road, rail or barge.  Once the materials have been containerized, recyclable materials are commoditized and traded in the global marketplace.

Diversion or disposal — diversion materials are processed for reuse or become recycled material for new products.  Materials destined for disposal in landfills include refuse, materials contaminated with waste and materials where markets do not exist.

BE3 Corp is here to help you with any waste management on your job site.  We know how to properly remove and handle waste and will be able to help out in every step of the way.

Contact us today at 716-249-6880 or fill out our form with any of your questions at

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