The end of autumn is not too far away, and that means the busiest time of year for home renovation projects is nearing its end.
If you have spent the past couple of months working on home improvement projects, you’re probably sitting on a pile of construction or demolition waste. While your first instinct might be to throw it all in the dumpster, there is a better option.
In recent years, the practice of recycling and reusing building materials has gained in popularity. With the rise of sustainable construction techniques, demand for recycled materials is also on the rise. While your project at home may not generate as much waste as a large construction site, recycling your leftover construction materials is still a good idea. Construction waste is one of the largest sources of trash in the United States.
There are a number of benefits to recycling your leftover construction debris. Economically, it helps reduce construction costs because it lowers the costs for materials. It also helps the local economy by providing jobs at recyclers.
But perhaps even more important, recycling building materials also has a positive effect on the environment. Producing fresh construction materials takes a heavy toll on natural resources, adds greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and can release chemicals into the ground and the water system. Reusing recycled construction materials is more efficient, without a loss of quality. Keeping construction materials out of landfills, which saves space and money, greatly benefits the environment.
Here are how some common construction materials are reused after they’ve been recycled:
• Wood: Old lumber can be re-milled and used in floors, panels, fences and doors. It can also be ground down for particleboard or woodchips.
• Drywall: An easily recyclable material, scraps of drywall can be used to plug openings in walls, or used to support wet concrete. Drywall can also be broken down and composted for fertilizer.
• Shingles/Roofing: They can be ground down and used to patch potholes and in pavement projects. They also can be recycled into new shingles.
• Concrete/masonry: Can be crushed and reused in pavement for roads and driveways. Concrete is also used as a foundation for pipes and other utility lines.
So, how can you get the most out of your construction waste? Here in Brown County, you can take your leftover wood and construction materials to the waste transfer station in Hobart where your materials will be recycled for a small fee. It’s a quick, easy and inexpensive way to dispose of the materials and you know they’ll be recycled.
If you don’t live in Brown County, the simplest thing to do is contact your local recycler, and ask for the location of their waste drop off site. Many recyclers provide a separate dumpster where you can place the materials you want to recycle.
So, as you’re cleaning the basement, garage or yard this fall, pull those leftover construction materials together and head for the waste transfer station.
For hours and more information visit the Brown County Resource Recovery website: www.browncountyrecycling.org.
Mark Walter is business manager for Brown County Port & Resource Recovery.