Recycling Becomes Rewarding for Construction Firms

by Jennifer Ellis  on Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 12:00 am  

Bins into which Nabholz sorts metals, trash and wood for recycling. (Photo by Jason Burt)

Recycling is not a new concept, but with more options becoming available Arkansas builders and remodelers who take the time to redirect construction and demolition waste from landfills to recyclers are seeing the payoff.

The idea of doing good things that make sense - as opposed to doing things just for the sake of being green - is gaining traction, according to Bill Hannah, CEO of Nabholz Construction Corp. in Conway. Recycling construction waste, he said, is one of those things that just makes sense.

"They pay you to bring it to them, rather than you paying to put it in a landfill," Hannah said. "All we have to do is separate the waste."

Separating the waste is optional at some recyclers, although companies are paid more for separated materials.

In 2011, Waste Management, the Houston-based provider of waste and recycling services, began an online Diversion & Recycling Tracking Tool called DART, which tracks how much waste is diverted from landfills to recycling centers during construction projects. The tool is especially helpful for projects that are trying to earn LEED certifications because LEED requires a certain percentage of project waste to be recycled.

Earlier this year, James H. Cone Inc. of Little Rock and Nabholz Construction Corp. received Sustainability Circle of Excellence Awards from Waste Management for being two of the top 10 construction companies nationwide diverting the highest total tonnage from landfills in the program's first year.

The 16 projects in Arkansas that have used DART to date have reported diverting 37,871 tons, or 89.9 percent, of construction waste since the program began. Waste Management estimates that to have saved enough landfill space to meet the municipal waste disposal needs of 584,553 people per month and to have saved 9,103 mature trees. Because recycling and diverting materials use less energy and water than producing new ones from raw materials, those recycling efforts likely saved enough electricity to power 5,089 homes per month and saved 27,739 barrels of oil and almost 2.85 million gallons of water.

Construction materials traditionally considered recyclable such as wood, paper and metal are being diverted from landfills, but materials such as drywall, concrete and asphalt are also finding a new life through recycling. Finding a place to recycle those materials used to be hard, but now there are several options in Arkansas, said Mary Laurie, director of sustainability at Nabholz.

More

Energy-efficient building techniques that were once considered faddish or experimental have become standard as builders and owners in Arkansas and beyond have realized the long-term savings to be had.

A roundup of new techniques in sustainable construction.

 

 

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