Construction And Demolition Waste Recycling: Key To Sustainable Future

Sustainability is not just a buzzword. It is key to building a greener, safer, and healthier future. It is a way to leave a legacy behind for the coming generation.

While the importance of sustainability and recyclability has increased over the last few years, there are some sectors where the concept has just taken the root and has tremendous potential. For instance, construction and demolition (C&D) materials.

Since the beginning of construction history, we are overwhelmed by the amount of waste created during C&D.

As the world’s population grows, construction waste grows along with it, and the issue of managing the waste becomes chronic. Currently, the world is going through a major problem with how to manage construction and demolition waste.

Construction and demolition materials consist of the debris generated during the construction, demolition, and renovation of buildings, bridges, and roads.

Certain materials during construction and demolition can act as commodities and can be used for developing new building projects.

The construction and demolition waste consists of wood, drywall, metal, masonry, plastic, among other things.

The heavy bulk materials that contain mineral and non-mineral materials can quickly be recovered, recycled, and reused.

Wood waste is the second-largest component–second only to concrete–of construction and demolition waste and accounts for around one-fourth of recyclable construction and demolition material.

Thus, there are lucrative opportunities as well as challenges in recycling construction and demolition waste into usable products.

By using materials better and smartly, everyone in the construction and demolition industry can find a way to minimize waste and collect waste for recycling.

According to Allied Market Research, the global construction and demolition waste recycling market is expected to reach $149.19 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 2.7% from 2020 to 2027.

The rapid growth of urbanization, governmental regulations toward illegal dumping, and cost-saving due to recycling waste have boosted the market growth.

Prime types of construction and demolition waste:

1. Materials including glass, plastic, and metal often end up in landfills.

2. Materials such as bricks, concrete, asphalt, soil, and stone are called inert waste as they are not chemically reactive and do not decompose.

3. Hazardous waste including asbestos and chemicals that need specialized handling could harm health.

The overall process of construction and demolition waste management is to reduce the waste created in the first place.

This could be achieved by redirecting recyclable resources back to the manufacturing process and increasing their life by reusing.

This is the most economical way of construction and demolition waste management. Another way is to minimize the generation of waste during construction.

For instance, the practice of minimal packaging and the use of recyclable materials could help in reducing the generation of construction and demolition waste.

Apart from this, the third approach to managing construction and demolition waste is efficient waste segregation at the construction site.

By training on-site workers during segregation procedures and ensuring that it is implemented properly, waste can be segregated before it harms the environment in any way.

Moreover, appointing an expert team on-site to manage and monitor waste material and creating a waste storage area could help manage construction and demolition waste.

During the demolition of a house, the entire structure is removed and it is the least expensive. However, it is the prime source of waste generation and results in heavy pollution.

However, deconstruction is more sustainable and allows the use of extensive recovery of old materials. In some cases, complete demolition is not fruitful but partial deconstruction and demolition can go a long way. Most buildings have wooden frames or high-quality bricks which can be easily reused.

Concrete, asphalt, and rubble can be recycled into new asphalt and concrete products. In addition, wood can be turned into engineered wood products such as furniture, compost, mulch, and other products.

Metals such as brass, steel, and copper are valuable commodities and can be easily recycled if segregated quickly.

However, the recycling processes must be monitored carefully as most of the materials sent for recycling end up poorly managed and fail to follow compliance with local and state regulations. Such issues must be solved to encourage construction and demolition waste recycling.

With the rise in awareness regarding sustainability and management of construction and demolition waste, several governments have encouraged initiatives that help manage construction waste.

In developing countries, the construction of new buildings and road construction has surged, which will inevitably increase the generation of waste materials.

Thus, the use of recycling materials and the implementation of sustainable measures before laying the first brick could help them manage construction and demolition waste.

In addition, the project managers must know how to implement recycling and consider the management of project waste as a vital part of their job.

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While recycling construction waste is a bit complicated, it makes the entire process of construction and demolition eco-friendly and lures environmentally conscious customers.