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Construction Recycling, by Corinne Maddox, CCM, CFM

Recycling construction and demolition (C&D) debris is a critical part of the sustainability movement. It is estimated that about 40% of the raw materials (steel, concrete, glass, etc.) used in the United States is consumed in construction, and construction debris represents about 25% of all of the solid waste sent to landfills. About 95% of C&D debris can be recycled, and in many cases the recycle cost is little or no more than the cost of disposal. Owners can drive this effort by requiring contractors to recycle some or all of the waste, and by making recycling a component of the bid evaluation. A simple approach is to ask bidders to provide a recycling proposal and associated pricing as a bid alternate. An owner may want to specify the recycling percentage or develop a formal specification from one of the samples available on green building websites. The public relations benefits are usually worth far more to a company than the additional cost to the project. A strategically placed sign at the construction site will add awareness of the company's environmental commitment to both the community and employees. Recycling programs on construction projects also heighten teamwork and motivation among workers and subcontractors, which will likely result in a faster, safer and higher quality project.

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