Human society has produced, manufactured, constructed, and demolished infrastructures for generations to pave the way for new buildings or renovation purposes. But, where do all these demolished materials go? Where does this construction waste end up? And is there a way to minimize its negative effect on our environment and conserve our natural resources?
Both the construction and demolition procedures waste tons of wastes every year. Initially, the materials produced by construction and demolitions are sold to small recycling stores, stowed in the basement for future use, burned, or thrown in a nearby pit.
Nevertheless, these methods are not applicable in rural societies due to the high population, limited space, and rampant construction of compact houses and buildings. This poses waste disposal problems, especially with the chemical manufactured materials used in construction.
With the high demands of construction and demolitions, the materials are dumped together in a pit or landfill, causing massive pollution to the soil, air, and waterways, risking public health and safety.
Hence, the government came up with a formal way of disposing of these materials through supporting and opening up organizations offering construction and demolition disposal services. These companies are responsible for processing these commodities into new products necessary to build new projects.
Industrialized countries have already started sustainable solutions regarding construction and demolition waste disposal and are thriving. Hopefully, they can be models for developing nations to follow who still have not created such practice. Our modern societies still have a long way to achieve sustainable practices, but with the proper communication with the people, contractors, companies, and factories, it can be attained.
The following are the top countries practicing sustainable construction and demolition disposal successfully:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Here the six ways on how a construction and demolition disposal is done:
Construction refers to the manner of building structures or infrastructures. Early residential buildings included non-toxic materials such as clay, trees, leaves, cogon, and the like. However, as the generations persist, durable construction has become a trend and a necessity using timber, steel or metal, cement, sand, and gravel. The construction materials used in infrastructures may produce durable outputs but not without a price. Most materials used in construction are chemical-laden and are hard to recycle. This results in the rampant disturbance of our environment, as seen in today’s climate conditions.
Demolition is when a building is dismantled fully or partially to renovate or construct a new building. It requires trained experts to ensure the procedure’s safety, including demolishing equipment such as implosion (using explosives), crane, wrecking balls, and other equipment.
Each method depends on the goal of the demolition process. Nevertheless, to preserve and salvage as many materials to reuse and recycle, selective demolition is preferred.
After the demolition, the crew carefully separates the commodities from debris that is of no use. They also separate the chemical-laden materials from the non-risk ones.
4. Hauling and loading
After sorting the materials, they are brought to warehouses and factories while the rest are sent to landfills.
The selected materials are cleaned and are manufactured into new products. Manufacturing companies can redesign them into better-looking ones. For instance, the accumulated plastic is melted and molded into plastic cups, plastic bottles, and the like.
Or not, these materials are sold into manufacturing companies, especially by people who manually demolished their small buildings or houses.
General contractors need to opt for a demolishing method to maximize the salvage of usable materials such as steel and lumber, which are the main components of a building. The process should ensure the items receive no damage or minor damage as much as possible.
This helps them minimize the cost of buying new products or processing raw materials into the needed item.
Other than recycling and reusing, selling the commodities can also be your best bet. This is why constructing a house is crucial to use quality materials rather than settling for cheap ones. This is because when you decide to demolish your building or residential homes, you are still able to reuse, recycle or even sell them.
The following are the common commodities generated from demolished bridges, houses, commercial buildings, dams, highways, piers, and streets:
Concrete chunks and debris can still be recycled by pulverizing or crushing using large impactors or portable construction crushers. Reusing pulverized concrete reduces the transportation cost from sending them to landfills, and it also helps conserve natural resources by replacing the use of sand and gravel.
2. Salvaged house commodities
This refers to the windows, doors, flooring, and wall, which can be reused or recycled into chairs, beds, and other furniture types that could return the money.
Bricks are traditionally made up of clay in rectangular shapes used to build houses and infrastructures. Given its durability, it can still be recycled to construct residential dwellings.
4. Trees or tree remains
The trees cut down from the streets can be manufactured into lumber and assembled into furniture or sold to furniture shops.
Asphalt chunks are recycled by reheating again along with water and additives in an asphalt recycler. This way, construction workers can conserve resources and money due to the reduced importation of oil necessary to create asphalt.
Lastly, recycled asphalt has stronger resistance to cracking due to the added mineral fillers and organic fibers in recycling it.
Steel is the primary building material used in construction as it is vital for the building’s strength to hold out for years and withstand earthquakes. It is used for fitting, foundation purposes, and roofing. Fortunately, steel is the most recycled material worldwide, minimizing steel wastes in landfills.
Recycling steel relies on melting and molding them into other products such as pots, kitchen necessities, etc. Or not, companies can restructure them into construction materials for another project.
Recycling glass can be a bit tricky considering its fragility, which in most cases leads them to landfills instead. However, there are people, organizations, and companies developing creative ways to convert them into cash. For instance, factories can redesign intact glass structures into better-looking ones.
They can be forged into mirrors, windows, aquariums, and the like. Some artistic people also take this opportunity to create mosaic arts and other forms of art out of colorful glasses. Also, broken glasses can be used as protection from theft once installed on top of your walls, preventing burglary minds from setting foot on them.
Here are also other materials generated from demolished sites that are usually left behind or are sent to landfills by disposal service providers:
- Lead-containing materials
- Medical wastes
- Waste contaminated materials
- Solvents, chemicals, petroleum-derived products
Here are the benefits of sustainable construction and demolition disposal:
1. Promotes recycling and reusing of materials
Recycling and reusing these materials instead of dumping them into landfills help preserve the natural resources as it limits the need to process raw materials meant for construction. Furthermore, it helps shrink costly imports of raw materials or construction materials.
For instance, lumbers from demolished houses and trees could still be recycled into making a house or furniture and sold.
2. Creates employment opportunities
Disposing of construction and demolished debris requires laborious management. Hence the need for mass hiring of employees responsible for demolishing houses or buildings, hauling the rubbish, sorting and separating commodities, loading and driving the materials to the factory or warehouse, cleaning, recycling, and processing the items new products and sold. This also creates opportunities for residents to earn a little from selling such items to more prominent organizations and factories.
3. Addresses Waste Issues
Landfills are already piling up fast due to the billions of tons of garbage dumped every day from establishments and residential houses. In the US alone, 600 million tons of construction and demolition debris are hauled. There would be a lot more if we are to include the whole world.
Fortunately, we have organizations and companies catering to such problems. They play an essential part in conserving and safekeeping our natural resources and helping our environment.
How to create sustainable C&D disposal:
1. Strict implementation of the policies and penalties
Despite the laws regulating this matter, there are still contractors who unlawfully deposit such wastes into rivers, lakes, forests, and the like. This is why the government has to be more involved and devise effective plans and actions to address this issue.
Another way of doing so is by having the people, organizations, and companies into construction and demolition disposal business to a regular meeting for updates of their activities. They should also agree to pay heavy penalties upon breach of contract.
2. Consistent monitoring of landfills and demolition areas
Regular visits to the construction and demolition disposal companies would keep them on their toes, preventing them from unlawfully disposing of waste materials.
3. General contractors should have a waste management plan.
A waste management plan is an excellent indicator that a general contractor is responsible. It also enables the authorities to track where they are depositing their salvaged materials from demolished sites.