Having an influence

Departments - Editor's Focus

April 29, 2014
Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith


Demolition contractors and C&D recyclers have to comply with state and federal regulations regarding many aspects of their businesses from stormwater runoff, to dust and noise control, to safety, to what markets they can sell their end products into.

Regulations can be a hassle or add expense to a project. Sometimes they can prevent end markets from being developed. A recycler or demolition contractor may even determine that a particular law is unfair. While legislation and regulations can be well intentioned, they can often have a negative impact on a particular industry segment. When that happens it is important to make your concerns known.

In the March/April issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling, Turner Construction’s Michael Deane said he was in favor of industry regulations as they help create an even playing field. They reduce the likelihood of a competitor cutting corners because everyone has to play by the same rules, he said.

So far, 2014 has resulted in some major victories for the recycling industry on the regulatory front. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an amendment to its Non-Hazardous Secondary Materials Rule, making allowances for C&D wood, creosote-treated railroad ties and paper recycling residuals to be used as boiler fuel. This is welcome news for the C&D recycling industry and other industries that have been lobbying for this rule change for years.

Other victories for recyclers are the EPA’s beneficial use determinations for the use of coal ash in concrete as a substitute for portland cement as well as the use of flue gas desulfurization gypsum as a substitute for mined gypsum in wallboard. Perhaps it will open the door for other secondary materials to be considered in these and other processes.

It sounds as though the EPA is listening to industry input, and the same is happening on the state level. Illinois has begun to allow recycled asphalt shingles and other secondary materials in its road base. Hopefully more states that aren’t yet doing this will soon follow. Additionally, many C&D recyclers say they hope their state regulators would determine beneficial uses for C&D fines and residuals. But in order for change to occur, the industry needs to continue to speak up.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) proposed silica rule is another issue that is creating concern among recyclers, demolition contractors and many construction trades. The Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC), a group of about 25 trade organizations, has provided more than 100 pages worth of comments to OSHA about why the rule is too stringent. The CISC argues that the new proposed permissible exposure limit of crystalline silica would be nearly impossible for the industry to meet. (You can read more about in the article, “Limited exposure” on p. 40).

I hope OSHA will take the construction industry’s concerns into consideration. If the previous examples of how industry has influenced regulators’ decisions is any indication, then I think there is a good possibility efforts by the CISC will have an impact. When other related industries have the same interests, being a united force can and is making a difference. Don’t underestimate the influence you can have on lawmakers and regulators by letting them know how their decisions are affecting your livelihood.