C&D Recycling Forum: It’s Not Always Easy

C&D Recycling Forum: It’s Not Always Easy

Two case studies address how to change work habits and how to demolish a building laden with asbestos.

October 8, 2012
CDR Staff
C&D Recycling Forum

The C&D recycling industry has made numerous advances in the past two decades, but two presenters at a session at the 2012 C&D Recycling Forum, which was held in late September in Long Beach, Calif., reminded attendees that progress can take hard work.

Joe Liebau of Wisconsin-based WasteCap, www.wastecap.org, offered an overview of five construction site recycling projects WasteCap helped coordinate. Combined, the projects achieved an 84.8 percent materials recycling rate, said Liebau, with 41,700 tons of material being recycled.

WasteCap has found that an orientation step for on-site workers is critical, with the message often being that recycling follows only safety as a priority on the project. Often, WasteCap is helping building owners and contractors “get the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits they’re looking for.”

WasteCap recommends some source separating on job sites, with scrap metals, wood and concrete being kept separate. Liebau said that workplace signage on bins and in highly visible areas throughout the workplace are critical to ensure that materials end up in the right bin.

Liebau also informed attendees about WasteCap’s TRACE tracking software, which can be used to document materials recycling efforts on a construction jobsite.

Presenters Robert Holmes and John Costello of Costello Dismantling Co. Inc., Middleboro, Mass., provided an overview of a high school demolition project that earned a 2012 Environmental Excellence Award from the National Demolition Association (www.demolitionassociation.com).

Newton (Mass.) North High School, the building being demolished, was a 454,000-square-foot building made in the 1970s with a steel frame and brick façade.

According to Holmes, the project “was fairly high-profile” and took place “in a very congested neighborhood,” meaning there was no shortage of people with a potential for raising nuisance complaints.

Ultimately, to help ease any noise or dust concerns, Costello Dismantling hauled a large volume of materials out of the building’s interior in some 13,000 Gaylord cardboard boxes. Holmes acknowledged this non-traditional material-handling technique on a demolition site “was a bit insane,” but that Costello Dismantling and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Projection “couldn’t come up with anything else.”

Among the environmental challenges was a rubberized gymnasium floor that contained mercury and interior block walls throughout the building that were coated with asbestos as a fire prevention technique. The asbestos had permeated the walls with another fraction of asbestos having settled on top of ceiling tiles, rendering them unrecyclable.

In order to both preserve other materials from contamination (and keep them recyclable) as well as prevent asbestos dust from escaping, Costello Dismantling designed a bracing system that kept the contaminated exterior walls standing to be used as a barrier while the rest of the structure was dismantled and recycled (or abated).

Abating the contamination that was discovered added some $5 million to the project’s cost, according to Holmes, but Costello Dismantling was able to deliver a cleared and uncontaminated site on time to the construction contractor.

Despite the project’s difficulties, more than 75,000 tons of brick and concrete were recycled as well as 4,750 tons of scrap metal. The contractors added that around 1,850 tons of mixed non-asbestos debris was sent for further processing and recycling.

The C&D Recycling Forum was Sept. 23-25 at the Hilton Long Beach & Executive Meeting Center, Long Beach, Calif.