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Recycling Construction Waste?

Is this the newest step in green building? It might be soon in Stamford, CT.  The city fathers are debating the passage of a bill that would fine construction companies up to 50 cents per pound of construction debris not sorted and sent to the correct recycling station.

While I see the wisdom in recycling construction waste, I also see a big cost being passed on to the consumer. Right now, in large demolition projects, a wrecking ball destroys entire structures, leaving a pile of rubbish that may contain friable asbestos, asphalt, inorganic compounds, molds and toxins that may create health issues if the workers start picking through the rubble and sorting them out.

Which leads to taking special precautions when sorting potentially toxic materials. Now, there's nothing wrong with that, but it adds a lot of expense to the contractor's budget, expense that she isn't going to eat. She's going to pass it on to her customers.

Think about this - most demolition takes place in buildings where fungus and mold may be present. After all, we don't tear down new buildings. At least I don't. Those toxins eventually disapate when returned to nature, via the landfill. Not so if we must disturb them now to sort out construction waste.

Instead of using a front-end loader to pick up and load the construction waste into dump trucks and dumpsters, we will be picking through it, piece by piece.

While this is a good plan for recycling, it might require gradual implementation to offset a large increase in construction costs to the consumer.

Most communities have some type of disposal laws right now that focus on removing specific toxins, such as paint, chemicals, rubber or other landfill toxins before dumping the construction waste.

I think it might be prudent to follow this same method, step by step.

The other incentive for this green building friendly initiative is to purchase the sorted construction waste from the contractors. If it's going to be recycled, someone is going to make a profit. That someone can fork over some dough to make sorting worth the contractor's time.

There are many ways to approach this and eventually, I'd hazard a guess that construction waste disposal will feature recycling regulations.

But, go easy. Our economy, especially the building sector, can't take another direct hit right now.

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