Many municipalities have passed ordinances mandating the recycling of Clean Construction and Demolition Debris (CCDD).

Back in October, Austin, Texas passed an ordinance requiring at least 50 percent of unused materials from construction be recycled or reused. Demo companies often are more sophisticated in this process and will separate and optimize the revenue they can get from recycling where general construction companies are really looking for simplicity in the process and are willing to let the recycling company do that work and get the additional margin.” Many countries already have similar requirements to those passed in Austin, Texas and industry experts expect them to spread in North America.

“In those states and cities that have established recycling and reuse infrastructure, construction waste is required to be handled separately from municipal solid waste (MSW) and hazardous materials, but also one or more strategies have been implemented that have been increasing gradually and relatively painlessly over time,” Hartsig said. And some have specific material mandates, such as Vermont, which requires 100 percent of several easily recycled materials to be recycled.” According to environmental and commercial real estate law expert, William Anaya, an officer with Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C., the clean construction or demolition debris (CCDD) requirements across municipalities all are fairly similar.

“Various percentages of clean – non-hazardous, no asbestos, no PCBs, no hazardous waste constituents – construction and demolition debris must be recycled according to the municipal ordinance,” Anaya said. “The percentages vary – some require 50 percent recycling, others 70 percent recycling and others 70 percent landfill diversion and 5 percent reuse – but the concept is the same.

“Austin’s goal of 50 percent recycle or reuse of ‘unused’ construction material is an extremely small step, and probably more of an annoyance for the construction industry than an effectual regulation,” Hartsig said. In the absence of these protocols, demolition contractors are subject to accusations of sham recycling and substantial fines and penalties, including criminal sanctions associated with perjury in the case of the sworn to affidavits referred to above, but also penalties for unlawful disposal.” Anaya noted that sham recycling i.e., circumventing waste disposal laws under the rubric of recycling is a concern at the regulatory level.

“Things like foundry sand cannot be recycled primarily because of the contamination associated with the foundry process – the solvents and the metals cannot be magically recycled at the local school yard as playground sand,” Anaya said.

Anaya’s recommendation to clients that either generate or collect C&D is to set up defensible in-house protocols to determine recyclable material from waste material.

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