A lot of waste is produced in new construction. From the first tree cleared off of a vacant wooded lot to the last plastic drink bottle left by workers at the site. Fortunately, resources for recycling construction waste are increasingly available to builders who are willing to take advantage of them.
Trees, limbs, stumps and brush account for a huge portion of the total waste stream when a house is built on a wooded lot. This material which is cleared from the site is all 100% recyclable, and its uses are endless. It can be ground into mulch and used as erosion control or landscaping. Logs from the trees can be milled and used to build almost anything, including the house itself.
Much of the waste on a construction site is similar to household recyclable waste. Plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans, mixed paper, and corrugated cardboard can easily be recycled at local solid waste facilities. These common recyclables can account for over 500 pounds of jobsite waste during the construction of a typical home.
Almost all types of metal on a jobsite are also recyclable at local solid waste facilities. Scraps of rebar, t-posts left by grading contractors, metal straps from lumber shipments, and even nails dropped by the carpenters on the site can be recycled.
Piles of scrap lumber are a feature common to all jobsites where wood framing is going on. “Clean wood” (free of paint, stain, and chemical preservatives) can be readily recycled; even plywood and boards with nails and screws left in them. During the construction of a moderately sized house- even with a conservation-minded framing crew- 5,000 pounds or more of clean wood waste can be generated and recycled. This wood is ground up and sold to companies that make post-consumer products from the scrap.
Scraps of drywall can be ground up on site and used to amend the soil. Made of paper and gypsum, this material actually benefits the site after construction, helping grass and plants thrive in soil that is typically poor in nutrients.
Sustainable management of the construction waste stream is a responsibility that Green Light Home Builders takes very seriously. It is just one way that we can tread more lightly on the places where we work, minimizing the impact of construction on both the land and the community.