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The 2011 C&D Recycling Forum served as a gathering place for the industry to learn and network.

November 22, 2011
Kristin Smith and Brian Taylor

From demolition contractors to C&D recyclers and landfill operators, more than 130 people who are involved in the recycling of C&D materials gathered for three days in late September at the Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City, Md., for the 2011 C&D Recycling Forum.

Attendees had the opportunity to hear from experts, share information and ideas with colleagues in their fields, and meet with equipment and service providers to help improve their businesses.

Ben Harvey of E.L. Harvey & Sons, Westborough, Mass., has attended the C&D Recycling Forum for the last two years. "The information that is being disseminated for people who are starting in the business or people who have been in this business for a long time is very good and very critical at this time," he said.

"We need to get this information out to everybody," Harvey added. "We need to let people know what's going on and what can be done in the construction and demolition recycling industry."

Marie DeVries, planner and contract administrator with the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency, Marion, Iowa, attended the forum because her agency is considering adding a C&D sorting line to its operation.

"The sessions are good, but even more important is just making contacts with people who are in the business or have some experience, because when you are new to any kind of programming, you need to talk to people who are already doing it," she said.

Educational sessions covered several topics of interest and value to the many segments of the C&D recycling industry. Attendees where brought up to speed on regulations affecting the industry and heard several case studies of projects that achieved high recycling rates. They also were given an economic overview from Andy Bauer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and an outlook on the "State of the Industry," hearing vital information from experts on how to be successful given the current economic and legislative climate.

Rising and Falling
Attendees heard from speakers providing details on the construction of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and the demolition of the former Asarco copper smelter in El Paso, Texas.

Elizabeth Bruno of Nova Waste and Potomac Recycling, Dumfries, Va., told attendees that the builders of Nationals Park, who were seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, achieved an 82 percent materials recycling rate as part of that process.

Nova Waste helped recycle both demolition materials from buildings that were taken down to make room for the stadium as well as recycling scrap materials on the construction site.

The project yielded an estimated 10,000 tons of bricks; 2,300 tons of wood; 1,760 tons of metal; more than 600 tons of cardboard; and more than 200 tons of concrete

Nova Waste shared a LEED spreadsheet with contractors and others involved. "They could see the progress of what was being recycled, even viewing an update after each haul if they wanted to," said Bruno.

Material was hauled to the Nova Waste/Potomac Recycling 39-acre landfill complex, where a Powerscreen 2400 sort line and other equipment was used to separate and process the recyclable materials.

Mike Casbon, who is based in Indiana with multi-national contractor ERM Inc., has spent much of the past 10 months in El Paso, Texas, helping oversee the demolition of a copper smelting facility that is spread out over 200 acres.

ERM hired Brandenburg Industrial Service Co., Chicago, as its demolition subcontractor for the project. Malcolm Pirnie, Highlands Ranch, Colo., was the lead remediation contractor.

Metals were smelted at the site, adjacent to the border with Mexico, from 1887 until Asarco closed the facility in 2005. In part because owners prior to Asarco smelted lead on the site, decontamination has been a vital part of the demolition and recycling process, said Casbon.

While the decontamination process has been costly, the variety and volume of metals harvested has yielded generous returns. That harvest has included some 3,500 tons of copper; 1.5 million pounds of lead; 44,000 ounces of silver; and 1,200 ounces of gold.

Much of this material has been harvested and sold during a time of record-high metals prices, benefiting the trust entity that now owns the land.

In addition to recycling metal for an eager scrap market, Casbon indicated that the project has also entailed recycling sulfuric acid, Douglas fir timber and some salvageable equipment.

Casbon said the efforts of ERM, Brandenburg and others working on the project have provided a tremendous financial success for the Asarco site land trust. Rather than spending down the trust's $52 million cash reserves for the project, work done thus far has provided an additional $25 million to the trust's value.

Recycling a Large Mix
Demolition companies and C&D recyclers struggling with what to do with vinyl siding, ceiling tile and drywall that end up in their material mix or recycling facility heard options from panelists in a session titled "Recycling A Larger Mix."

Terry Weaver, president of USA Gypsum, Reinholds, Pa., explained how his company recycles new gypsum wallboard from residential and commercial construction sites. Rolloff containers are placed at construction sites for drywall only "to keep contamination at a manageable level," said Weaver.

His company received the first permit in Pennsylvania to recycle drywall for land applications or animal bedding products. USA Gypsum also is working with Penn State University to begin adding gypsum to ready-mix concrete. The company has done a test pour at its Reinholds facility.

Another company that is taking its products out of the demolition debris stream and reusing it to make more of its products is the ceiling tile manufacturer Armstrong, based in Lancaster, Pa. Through its recycling program, Armstrong has reportedly diverted more than 100 million square feet of old ceiling tiles from landfills. Andy Lake leads the recycling program for the company. He told attendees that recycling ceiling tile can provide up to four LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points on projects. "Four points is a big deal when you are at a silver or higher level," he said.

Armstrong also can recycle ceiling tiles made by its competitors. If a job site can generate 30,000 square feet of ceiling tiles Armstrong will pick up the loads from the job site. One significant development that Armstrong recently made is it now can create bales of ceiling tiles. In the past, demolition crews were required by Armstrong to palletize tiles, which could be time consuming.

The ability to put the tiles into a rolloff, according to Lake, "is a game changer for us."

Companies interested in recycling ceiling tiles must first register their project with Armstrong.

Sam Fisher of Shermans Valley Recycling, based in Loysville, Pa., talked about his company's process for recycling vinyl siding.

"This year we have recycled close to 2 million pounds. Since doing the siding, we have done 4 million pounds," said Fisher.

Fisher said that he realizes there is a baling cost and operating cost for C&D recyclers and demolition companies, but that there is a strong market available for the regrinds from vinyl siding.

"When we get the bales back from your facility we have a special machine that tears the bale apart. There is also a sorting line where a positive sort is done.

"From there we take it to another building and the shredder operator watches again and pulls the negative out," he said.

Fisher added, companies that drop off siding do not have to worry about sorting it by color because that is done at his facility. Shermans Valley does not accept shutters, insulated siding or cedar shake siding. He said his company has the capacity to handle a lot more material than it is currently processing.

"We are a young company, but we are very excited to work with you and very excited about where vinyl siding can go," said Fisher. "I know there is a lot of vinyl siding going into landfills every day. What can we do to reclaim that? That is a question for you to answer."

The C&D Recycling Forum is hosted by Recycling Today Media Group, publishers of Construction & Demolition Recycling and sponsored by the National Demolition Association, Doylestown, Pa., and the consulting firm Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (GBB), Fairfax, Va. Organizers will soon announce the dates and location of the 2012 event. Information will be available at

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The authors are associate editor; and editorial director of Construction & Demolition Recycling and can be reached at or