Colorado State University demolition sets bar for area recycling initiatives

Colorado State University demolition sets bar for area recycling initiatives

The Colorado State University’s football stadium demolition has a 70 percent diversion mandate.

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Concrete and Aggregates Construction Demolition Green Building Metals Mixed C&D Recycling Projects

Residents of Fort Collins, Colorado, are coming together to find ways to better divert waste from landfills in the wake of the nearby Larimer County Landfill’s expected 2025 closure date. Part of this plan could include the introduction of a new construction and demolition (C&D) processing facility that would accept items such as aggregate, wood, metal, drywall and cardboard, according to a May 1 report by the Coloradoan.

The proposed C&D recycling plant is anticipated to be a key component of the North Front Range Regional Wasteshed Planning Coalition’s recommendations for how to deal with the area’s C&D waste after the 2025 landfill closure, which will be made public at a series of open houses starting May 7.

Although Fort Collins has one of the state’s more progressive recycling programs that stipulates contractors must recycle wood, concrete, metal, cardboard and masonry on new building projects, 75 percent of its C&D waste still ends up in landfill, according to the report. While many contractors might not be prioritizing recycling C&D waste on most projects, the current demolition of Colorado State University’s (CSU’s) Hughes Stadium—a 32,500-seat stadium that was home to the CSU football team from 1968 to 2016—is serving as a benchmark for what is possible when recycling is prioritized, as the project comes with a 70 percent diversion mandate.

The demo project is being spearheaded by Cleveland-based Independence Excavating with assistance from Fort Collins-based subcontractor Connell Resources, who is in charge of removing rebar for repurposing and crushing the concrete.

The project’s two biggest sources of recyclables—concrete and steel—are the easiest to divert. The steel is being sent to local metal recyclers, while Connell Resources is using rock crushers to pulverize the stadium’s nearly 40,000 tons of concrete into 1-inch chunks to be used in regional construction projects. The stadium’s old turf is also being reused to help patch other playing surfaces across the country, and plastic and metal from the seats has already been removed for recycling.

Although emphasizing recycling takes more planning for contractors, it is possible to achieve high diversion rates when the proper emphasis is placed on its importance.

“The biggest difference I see when I’m out on sites is how bought-in the site’s leadership is,” Jonathon Nagel, environmental compliance inspector for the City of Fort Collins said, according to the report. “If you have a site where the superintendent really wants to do good, they’ll do really well. And then there are a lot of sites that don’t particularly (prioritize) recycling, and they’re going to scrape by in comparison.”

According to Tony Raeker, green building coordinator for the City of Fort Collins, the right training can help make recycling the norm for area construction and demolition projects.    

“Once builders and contractors learn best practices, even if their next project isn’t green, they still apply a lot of them,” Raeker says. “Once they’ve mastered the best way to do something, there are not a lot of reasons not to do it.”