Wastecon 2011: Raising the C&D Diversion Roof

Legislation, ordinances and targets are playing a role in increased C&D materials recycling.

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September 1, 2011

In addition to the economics of construction and demolition (C&D) materials recycling having improved, state legislation and local ordinances also have driven more C&D recycling. That was part of the message from panelists at a session on C&D recycling at Wastecon, the annual convention of SWANA (the Solid Waste Association of North America).

Speaker Richard Ludt of Interior Removal Specialist Inc. (IRS), South Gate, Calif., noted how a number of ordinances enacted in Southern California have affected C&D scrap diversion flows in his market region.

Reacting to California Assembly Bill 939, which was passed in 1989 with the goal of increasing landfill diversion to 50 percent, municipalities enacted a variety of ordinances affecting C&D materials, Ludt said.

He said some communities have required contractors to pay a deposit that will not be returned until their project is finished and they can prove they reached a specified landfill diversion or recycling rate. Such arrangements were not always well received by contractors and also tended to create extensive recordkeeping and accounting systems for the municipalities.

Ludt praised the city of Los Angeles for creating “possibly the simplest C&D ordinance I have seen.” In Los Angeles, C&D materials must be taken to certified facilities that have been audited and approved by the city. “They reach their desired recycling percentage by permitting [facilities] carefully,” said Ludt. “Builders like it because there is no deposit and city staff like it because there is no tracking of deposit payments.”

Speaker Miriam Zimms of Kessler Consulting Inc., Tampa, Fla., provided an overview of C&D recycling in several regions where municipalities or solid waste districts have tried approaches to spur recycling.

In King County, Wash., Zimms said agencies there are providing considerable technical support, have streamlined the permitting process and offer grants tied to “green building” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects. These initiatives have been enough to boost the C&D materials landfill diversion rate to 83 percent in King County, according to Zimms.

Metro Portland, Ore., is another region where LEED projects are abundant, and in fact new Metro Portland government buildings are required to seek LEED certification, said Zimms. Builders in the region are mandated to recycle 75 percent of their scrap materials, although Zimms said only 45 percent of projects may be in compliance with this mandate.

In her home state of Florida, Zimms said C&D recycling has grown to the point where there are now more than 120 C&D recycling facilities in the Sunshine State, although Florida’s overall C&D materials diversion percentage may be no greater than about 27 percent.

Wastecon 2011 was Aug. 23-25 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn.