Growth results in more construction waste

Across Colorado, and especially the Front Range, surging economic and population growth have stimulated the construction industry. New homes, apartment complexes and buildings are being built while older buildings are being removed or renovated.  This construction activity generates jobs, homes and offices for Coloradans, but at the same time, generates a significant amount of construction and demolition waste. Keeping this C&D waste out of the landfill is a challenge that many communities and organizations are trying to overcome. According to estimates, nearly 30 percent of all the waste going to the landfill is C&D waste.  The most common materials making up C&D waste includes aggregates, drywall, cardboard, shingles, dimensional lumber and plywood, scrap metal and carpet. While opportunities exist for recycling and reuse of C&D waste, there are a number of challenges that prevent more of this material from being diverted from the landfill. Lack of recycling facilities C&D waste is commonly mixed on-site with all waste materials placed in a single container. In order to recycle this waste, it must be sorted, much like how our curbside single stream recyclables are handled. Facilities for sorting C&D waste, called material recovery facilities, are prevalent in states such as California, but there are no official material recovery facilities in Colorado. One of the main reasons for this is that  Colorado’s low landfill tipping fees make it much cheaper for mixed C&D waste to be sent to the landfill rather than processed and recycled. Therefore, there is often little economic incentive to building facilities for sorting mixed C&D. Colorado does have a number of private and public facilities for the recycling of some source-separated materials, such as aggregates, scrap metal, cardboard and wood, which helps divert thousands of tons of waste from the landfill every year. However, their availability often varies by community. For communities far away from recycling centers, transportation costs can make recycling cost prohibitive. Lack of markets For many of the materials making up C&D waste, there are few or no markets in Colorado for processing and recycling the material. One example is asphalt shingles. There were a number of pilot programs launched around the state by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to create markets for converting asphalt shingles into material for road construction. However, in 2015, CDPHE adopted a policy that asphalt shingles are no longer considered a recyclable material in Colorado.  This was due to recycling facilities accepting thousands of tons of roofing shingles and then abandoning them due to lack of demand.     Separation on site As mentioned, mixed C&D loads are challenging to recycle. However, placing all C&D waste on site in a single container is generally the most common method of waste disposal at construction sites due to a few reasons. First, space is often limited at a construction site and only one container may fit on site.  Second, it is generally much more expensive to have multiple containers for the collection of sorted materials on site. Finally, with multiple…

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