Tracking Trash: Construction teams place higher importance on construction waste management
...now land applying the material as a soil amendment. “It’s really opened up a whole new set of doors for us.”
At Waste Management, the R&D group recently developed a new technology to recycle shingles. The company is also investigating new technologies to process comingled C&D wastes, Halter says.
But recycling some materials, such as fiberglass, ceramic tiles and gypsum from retrofits, remains problematic. “Gypsum that comes out of retrofitting is typically painted or has other material with it,” Halter explains.
What can be recycled is also driven by local and regional markets, Halter explains. “That’s part of the challenge.”
“I think there is value to everything,” Halter says. “That is why we are working on some closed loop solutions to see if we can’t help get these materials back into new building or other types of products.”
Analyses of C&D tracking data could spur development of new materials markets. “If we’ve got a lot of concrete waste in Texas and there is a need for a lot of concrete subbase or unit recycled aggregate you can start to build it into the supply chain,” Dean says. “We are trying to help people looking for market opportunities to develop businesses. But it is easier said than done.”
Data analyses may also provide interesting insights into construction practices. For instance, do specific waste management practices result in higher recycling rates or do construction techniques, like BIM and lean construction, reduce wastes at jobsites?
“It is really interesting in terms of the potential to influence the decision making process,” Deane says.
To date, Turner, Skanska and ESMG have not done detailed analyses of the C&D waste data in their tracking systems. Buono, who has compiled waste data on over 70 LEED projects, points to the lack of resources. Deane is looking at opportunities to collaborate with educational or research institutions to help analyze Turner’s information.
Moving the Market
Deane believes large companies like Turner that require documentation and recycling of waste are improving the waste industry’s performance and capabilities. “Companies that five years ago said that they could not do it or it would cost extra don’t say either of these things anymore. What was once new is now the new normal.”