Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling

Construction & Demolition Debris Recycling

Source: Florida DEP

Construction and demolition (C&D) debris recycling became a matter of controversy in the 2000 legislative session. House Bill 2163 (Appendix A, a web link) would have created a new class of materials called “recoverable construction and demolition materials” (RCDM), which would have been exempt from local government solid waste franchises. The bill failed to be considered. However, House Environmental Protection Committee chair Paula Dockery requested, and Speaker of the House John Thrasher subsequently directed, that the Committee staff conduct an interim study of C&D debris recycling. This report was prepared by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to assist the Committee in its task.

Construction and demolition debris is defined in 403.703 (Appendix AL, a web link), F.S. as:

  • “…discarded materials generally considered to be not water-soluble and nonhazardous in nature, including, but not limited to, steel, glass, brick, asphalt roofing material, pipe, gypsum wallboard, and lumber, from the construction or destruction of a structure as part of a construction or demolition project or from the renovation of a structure, and including rocks, soils, tree remains, trees, and other vegetative matter that normally results from land clearing or land development operations…”

The C&D debris waste stream is comprised of four major sub-categories: land clearing debris, transportation related debris, building construction, demolition debris and disaster debris (not evaluated in this report)

  • Land clearing debris is comprised of root balls, non-merchantable timber, brush, rocks, muck and other soil
  • Transportation derived debris includes portland cement concrete and asphalt concrete paving for roadways, curbs, sidewalks, bridges and other primarily concrete debris, usually with imbedded pipe or steel
  • Building related C&D debris includes: wood, concrete, brick and other masonry, roofing, drywall, and miscellaneous paper, plastics and metals. It can come from construction, renovation or demolition of residential and non-residential or commercial buildings and varies widely depending on the type of building and activity
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), renovation and demolition accounts for 88% of all C&D debris from residential and commercial buildings.
In 1998, Florida generated nearly 25 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW), of which C&D debris accounted for 5.9 million tons, or 25% of the total
A wide range of materials are recovered from C&D debris and reused, or recycled into other products. These include:
  • Crushed concrete and brick used in road construction, drainage
  • Concrete, block, masonry and other clean debris used as borrow pit fill
  • Concrete truck washout used to make onsite containing walls and bins
  • Reusable building supplies such as lumber and whole bricks
  • Remanufacture of wood chips into engineered wood
  • Wood fuels used in co-generation plants and industrial boilers
  • Horticultural mulches made from natural woody material
  • Dyed, decorative mulches made from construction debris wood
  • Wood chips used as bulking agent in biosolids, compost, animal bedding
  • Planks and other dimensional lumber sawn from whole trees
  • Corrugated cardboard containers
  • Metals (steel, aluminum other non-ferrous)
  • Recovered screened material (RSM) for DEP approved uses
  • Processed C&D debris used as daily cover

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