June 8

20 Shocking Construction Waste Facts You Need to Know

One of the most notable things at any construction site is the sheer amount of waste created. From the first swing of the demolition hammer to the very last finishing touch, there’s so much debris. Now, take a step back and realize that this large amount of construction waste is just from one site! Imagine how much waste is being created on every construction site across the country and around the globe. 

Actually, you don’t have to imagine. We are about to dive into 20 construction waste facts that will have your head spinning and make you ask, “What can I do to help?” 

While no one expects you to stop building, there are a number of things you can do to improve your business while decreasing the stress on our planet. In this blog, we’ll discuss the disposal of construction waste through recycling. It’s already happening in Jacksonville, Florida with amazing results.

Help The Planet & Help Your Business by Recycling Construction Waste 

There’s a good chance that you recycle in your home. Bottles, cans, glass, and paper likely have their own bin so these materials don’t end up in our landfills. While this is a great (and important) start, it’s estimated that approximately one-quarter of the national waste stream is made up of construction and demolition waste. Not only does this create a gigantic burden on our planet, but construction waste management is also a large expense for your business. 

Recycling construction waste is becoming more and more important every year (we’ll look closer at the construction waste data in our list of construction waste facts).  First, let’s take a look at some of the benefits to your business and our planet. 

  1. By recycling construction and demolition waste, you keep debris out of our landfills (which are quickly filling up!).
  2. Recycling allows materials to be repurposed and reused which takes some of the burdens off our natural resources.
  3. Fewer materials in our landfills mean fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  4. Landfills are often on the edge of town which means that transporting waste to a landfill can take time away from the job site. Transfer yards that do the recycling for you, are more conveniently located.
  5. More and more, customers don’t want to contribute to an environmental crisis and are eager to work with companies who are a part of the solution.
  6. A trip to the landfill often means navigating poorly paved roads. This is unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicles and will cost more in maintenance and repairs. Transfer yards are more easily accessible and safer for your trucks. 

Utilizing a transfer yard that recycles construction waste brings a myriad of benefits. It’s a win-win for the environment and your bottom line.

20 Shocking Construction Waste Facts 

It’s easy to ignore what we don’t see. Even for those who visit landfills on a regular basis, it’s difficult to see the big picture of what construction waste is doing to our world. That’s why we’ve compiled 20 construction waste facts that will have you rethinking the impact your business has on this planet we call home.

Between 230 million and 530 million tons of C&D waste are produced each year

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this is just in the United States! Imagine how much is being produced worldwide. This waste includes concrete, metal, wood, glass and windows, bricks, and landscape waste.

By the year 2025, annual construction waste is expected to reach 2.2 billion tons throughout the world.

While other countries contribute to this number, the United States is the biggest trash producer in the world.

30% of the building materials delivered to a construction site often end up as waste

According to ScienceDirect, these materials often include brick and clay tiles, and gypsum drywall which is difficult to reuse and often goes directly into our landfills.

On the job site, 90% of total C&D waste is due to demolition while only 10% is due to construction.

Demolition is a dirty job. The more you recycle, the less will end up as a permanent fixture in our landfills. 

In 2015, 23.1 million tons of waste was created during construction and 358.7 million tons from demolition… and that’s just concrete.

Hard to imagine what that looks like? An elephant weighs approximately 7 tons. That means you’d need 54 million elephants to reach that number… which would require an awful lot of peanuts.

In 2018, 567 million tons of C&D debris entered the national waste stream thanks to demolitions.

When we compare this to the numbers from previous construction waste facts, we see a 208-million-ton jump from just 3 years earlier.

Of all the building materials, concrete is one of the longest living… but it also accounts for the most demolition projects.

It’s wonderful that it helps our buildings last long, but with so many being torn down, what is it doing to our landfills?

The national waste stream is made up of approximately 23% C&D waste

As we mentioned earlier, you recycle at home, but what you do on the job site will have huge implications. But wait…

C&D debris has accounted for more than twice the amount of municipal solid waste generated in the U.S.

The EPA says that 600 million tons of waste was created in the United States… in 2008 alone!

Out of that 600 million tons, 455 was directed to next use while 145 million tons went to landfills

Going back to our elephant analogy, that’s 20+ elephants worth of trash in our landfills.

Between 1990 and 2018, C&D waste generation in the U.S. went up 342%

 That’s terrifying. Imagine what could happen over the next 30 years if we don’t make a change.

According to the EPA, 2005-2018 saw a 10x faster waste level increase than between 1990 and 2005.

This is a bad trajectory and one we must counter immediately.

75%+ of construction waste ends up in landfills.

This includes wood, drywall, bricks and clay tiles, and asphalt shingles.

Thankfully, these construction waste facts aren’t all negative. (Phew!) Here’s a bit of good news that shows we are on the right track.

Commercial green design projects generated $1.14 billion (U.S.) in revenue in 2015

Customers care about our planet! They are increasingly requesting environmentally friendly design and materials, and expect that recyclable materials will be dealt with properly.

According to the Federal Highway Agency, it’s now possible to recycle between 90 and 100% of reclaimed asphalt pavement

When you consider how much of our country is covered in roads, this is a wonderful feat!

Recycling asphalt can save American tax-payers $2.5 billion each year.

The National Asphalt Pavement Association shows us that recycling is great for the wallet.

4,300 acres of landfill space is saved for every 538 million tons of C&D waste recycled

Our landfill space is precious and according to The Construction & Demolition Recycling Association, recycling can make a HUGE impact on our environment. In fact…

For every 135 million tons of C&D waste recovered, we can reduce U.S. landfill expansion by 1,000 acres.

We’ve got a finite amount of planet and any effort made towards limiting landfill expansion is amazing news. This information from the CDRA makes us hopeful for the future.

98% of the steel used in construction and demolition projects is recycled to new uses

As reported by the AISC. Even better, there is no loss of its physical properties. This is why it’s not just recycled, it’s actually “multi-cycled” and can be used again and again.

C&D recycling opportunities created 175k jobs in 2016 alone

According to an EPA study. This means that recycling isn’t only good for our planet, it’s great for the economy as well!

We Want Your Construction Waste!

Hopefully, after reading these shocking construction waste facts, you have a better understanding of just how important it is to recycle construction and demolition debris on every single job.

Convinced but not sure where to start? Coastal Recycling Services makes it easy for you to save time, money, and the planet. There are a variety of materials that can be recycled on site.  

Construction and demolition is serious business. The amount of waste created on projects across the globe is difficult to comprehend. However, you can have a positive impact on the environment, attract like-minded customers, and increase your bottom line by recycling. Contact Coastal Recycling Services today and learn how you can make a difference.


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