Learning All About Recycling Services and Processing Techniques

Reusing, Recycling And Repurposing Construction Materials: A Guide For Contractors

by Vernon Silva

Over the last several decades, the trends of reusing, recycling and repurposing have grown exponentially. While recycling was initially motivated by environmental concerns, the business world is now beginning to recognize the financial benefits. Junk and trash removal companies have begun to evolve into recycling companies. Most recently, construction leftovers have become a huge resource for a myriad of repurposing projects. In this article, learn how your construction firm can reuse, recycle and repurpose as well as buy, sell and cut costs on building materials.

Repurpose During Reconstruction

Remodeling is a popular aspect of construction. Whether it's a small, home remodeling project or a large project involving demolition and rebuilding, your construction company can salvage a wide variety of materials.

Building materials that can be salvaged for recycling include:

  • Asphalt and fiberglass composite shingles. Shingles can be ground up into gravel-like material. This material is used as a base for parking lots, driveways and roads.
  • Unpainted lumber. Lumber that has not been painted or stained is ground into mulch and used in landscaping for controlling erosion and for plant bedding.
  • Heart pine lumber. Heart pine lumber is valuable and can be reused for flooring, trim and cabinets.
  • Broken bricks, concrete block and clay roof tiles. These materials are ground up and used like gravel.
  • Damaged toilets, porcelain sinks and ceramic tiles. Ceramics and porcelain is also used like gravel after being ground up.

You can also salvage materials and items to be refinished and reused. These items include:

  • Framing lumber
  • Old bricks
  • Steel trusses
  • Wood flooring
  • Light and plumbing fixtures
  • Cabinetry and counter tops
  • Doors and hardware
  • Millwork and shelving
  • Electrical fixtures

Planning to reuse materials from portions of the old building may take extra time, but it can save money and maintain the history of the property. Reusing and recycling materials can be particularly cost effective for large projects like schools and commercial buildings and can add a lot of charm and nostalgia to small projects like family homes.

Recycling and Clean Up

Construction sites are filled with packaging materials and debris. Implementing a recycling and junk removal program promotes an environmentally-friendly image as well as helping you build a reputation of maintaining a neat and clean job site.

Set up recycling bins for items like:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Wooden pallets
  • Clear plastic

These items can often be picked up at no cost to you.

During demolition, you can salvage the follow materials to sell as scrap metal:

  • Copper wiring and pipes
  • Aluminum gutters
  • Other non-ferrous metals

A reuse, recycle and repurpose program can reduce project waste by more than 50 percent. While some items may cost money to recycle, the cost is typically no more than dump fees and the savings will far outweigh the costs.

What to Do with Salvaged Materials

If your construction company regularly salvages materials, you may end up with quite a large collection. If you don't plan to use the material, you can:

  • Donate. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity, thrift stores, and other community organizations accept donations of building materials, used appliances and household fixtures.
  • Sell. You can place advertisements in your local newspaper, join websites designed to sell reusable construction materials, or use internet classifieds websites to sell unwanted items. Even at pennies on the dollar, you can make quite a bit of money to fund future recycling projects. You can also purchase materials that you need at highly discounted prices.

Local artists and crafters may also be happy to haul away materials to use in their projects. Repurposing is a quickly growing trend that people from all walks of life enjoy.

Junk, rubbish, trash and debris have evolved since the reuse, recycle and repurpose movement began and construction materials are no exception. People everywhere are finding new ways to use items previously headed to landfills and to be less environmentally destructive every day. Use the information in this article to transform your construction company into an environmentally-conscious business while still being conscious of your bottom line.