Recycling Waste

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According to the 2004 Statewide Waste Characterization Study - California, construction and demolition (C&D) materials account for almost 22 percent of the waste stream going into our landfills. Many of these materials can be reused or recycled, thus prolonging our supply of natural resources and potentially saving money in the process.

Common C&D materials include lumber, drywall, metals, masonry (brick, concrete, etc.), carpet, plastic, pipe, rocks, dirt, paper, cardboard, or green waste related to land development. Of these, metals are the most commonly recycled material while lumber makes up the majority of debris that still goes to a landfill.

Building a Green House requires not only a solid waste recycling policy, but also a plan to purchase products with recycled content.  California has a terrific website that helps identify products that contain recycled content, defined as Total Recycled Content and Post Consumer content. (Go to California Recycled-Content Product Directory at
www.ciwmb.ca.gov/rcp/ )

As builders of a Green Home, waste reduction has been one priority for us from the concept stage of the project.  Polar Bear is committed to product recycling and using materials efficiently.  We have established a recycling center on site for waste metal, card board, and wood.  I am taking recyclable waste to the county's recycling center on a regular basis.

On balance, we hoped to have a small amount of waste actually delivered to the landfill when the house is done.  Even the waste rigid foam insulation was used in the attic space over the garage for insulation to keep it out of the landfill.  About the only items that can't be recycled is the pressure treated waste word.

Upon completion of the exterior framing, all OSB sheeting was taken to the recycling center where it will be chipped into landscape chips. In total we have diverted nearly 4,000 pounds of waste OSB from the landfill to reusable chips.  Other scraps of wood were made available to individuals who wanted some wood for camping or a wood burning stove.  None of the scrap wood will end up in the land fill except for the pressure treated wood.

In addition, waste roofing shingles can stay in the environment for years.  When the roofing was completed, again we loaded up the waste and took it to Tacoma where it is used to make highway underlay and other products.

All paper and cardboard was regularly taken to the recycling center.  It's amazing how much cardboard is generated from products purchased for the home.

Polar Bear also works with safety in mind and we have developed a standard pitch to all subcontractors on waste reduction, use of environmentally friendly products and even keeping the work site clear of litter.

However, there is going to be some waste.  The goal is to minimize it's impact and load on the county's land fill.  For example, when concrete is poured, the cement trucks needs to be clean before they leave. 

This can leave a real mess right where you want to plant a flower bed after you move in.  Make certain that cement trucks are cleaned out where you will be laying your driveway.

So as of February 25th, after the floor, walls, insulation, electrical wiring, plumbing, roof, and windows we had some waste left over. 

In fairness, around half of this waste is sawdust which could be used for landscaping, but it is mixed with nails and other bits and was simply easier to sweep up and put in plastic bags for the dumpster.

 


We welcome your comments on this site.
You can email Christine Garst at
cbgarst@aol.com
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