Home Improvement and Recycling

By Waste Management  Published Jan 10th, 2012


Americans spend over $200 billion annually on home improvement projects. These projects can vary from repainting a room to a whole-house renovation, but the one thing they all have in common is the generation of waste and debris. According to the EPA, an estimated 170 million tons of construction and demolition waste was generated in 2003, and only 20% of that material was recycled or reused. The good news is, with a strategic plan in place at the start of a project, the majority of construction waste can be reused onsite, salvaged, donated or recycled.

Using deconstruction VS demolition methods for renovation projects saves money by reducing the need to purchase new materials, as well as pay landfill charges for disposing of waste. Deconstruction is the systematic disassembly of a structure that preserves the materials and fixtures for reuse and recycling, versus demolition which largely destroys most of the materials. Intact materials and fixtures that will match the desired look of the final project can be incorporated into the renovation; remaining materials can be salvaged for sale or donation.

Salvageable materials include lumber, hardware (knobs and hinges), sinks, faucets, appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures, doors, furniture, and so on. Charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Goodwill readily accept these materials. (Material acceptance criteria varies, so check with your local branch first.) Materials that cannot be reused or salvaged are often recyclable. Commonly recycled construction waste materials include masonry scrap and rubble (concrete, brick, and stone), cardboard packaging, metal pipes and wires, pallets, dimensional lumber, etc. Other materials such as carpet and padding are accepted by some recycling services providers as well.

Even after reuse, salvage, and recycling options have been exhausted, there will likely be waste leftover from a renovation project. These materials are often too bulky and heavy to place in an ordinary trash can, but might not require a full-size dumpster. Waste Management offers a convenient and cost effective solution for construction debris called, Bagster. The Bagster is literally a 3-yard dumpster in a bag that can hold up to 3,300 pounds. They are available for purchase at most home improvement retailers. Once the Bagster is filled with waste, the user can schedule a pickup either online or by phone. With a reuse, salvage, and recycling plan in place at the start of a project, the remaining waste will be at a minimum.

For more information about reuse, recycle and salvage options, visit Waste Management at http://www.wm.com or click here to find a local Waste Management facility.