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What Can Be Recycled From My Home Renovation Project?

What Can Be Recycled From My Home Construction Project?

By Laura BourlandRise Writer
Mar 15, 2018

Building a new environmentally friendly home is an exciting step towards living a more sustainable life. Opportunities to decrease energy consumption and environmental impact while building with beautiful reclaimed wood are abundant, but what are your plans for recycling demolition materials and excess building supplies?

Recycling of construction and demolition materials (C&D) is just as important, if not more so, in decreasing your family’s long-term environmental impact. So, before you start building, meet with your construction team and your municipality recycling department to create an actionable plan for recycling waste.

Learn more about reducing home construction waste >>

Avoid Adding to Landfills

Unless you take the proper steps to prevent it, your unused and wasted C&D materials will go straight to landfills, contributing to the tons and tons of waste that could have been salvaged for reuse.

The first step in sustainable home construction should be to create a plan and on-site recycling system for sorting and disposing of C&D waste. Contact your local municipality to learn what can be sustainably recycled and repurposed in your community.

If your home construction project involves the demolition of existing structures, don’t just knock it all down! Deconstruction or a “soft tear down” will empower you to recover and sort materials for recycling and reuse. While it may add an extra day or two to the overall project, you might uncover things like doors that can be refinished for interior doors in your new home or stone that could be repurposed into a beautiful and historical entryway. 

Having recycling bins at the ready will make recycling on-site a whole lot easier.

Best Practice for On-Site Recycling:

  • Clearly label bins
  • Cover bins to protect materials from damage
  • Lock bins to avoid theft and accidents

Your local recycling center can help you order and deliver recycling bins.

what can I recycle?

What Can I Recycle?

Recycling guidelines vary by location as not all municipalities have the capacity to process things like cardboard or metal. Contact your local recycling center to learn more about what they’ll accept.

But remember, recycling isn’t your only option! There is a growing market for re-usable materials including, but certainly not limited to: Appliances, paint, solvents, masonry, rebar, wood, doors, windows and so much more. We’ve put together a shortlist of materials to help guide you as you plan and begin building your new environmentally friendly home.

Cardboard, Paper, and Plastic

Cardboard, paper, and plastic packaging of construction materials can amount to a hefty pile of waste. Lucky for you, manufacturers and distributors already realize this and may offer options to purchase materials sans packaging or make use of reusable packaging that can be returned after your materials are safely delivered to the construction site.

Contact your suppliers to inquire about their sustainable packaging practices and coordinate reusable and returnable packaging.

Wood, Drywall, Insulation, and Sawdust

Homes built primarily of wood will produce a fair amount of scrap wood, sawdust, and deconstructed wood waste. Investigate your wood waste to determine if it’s viable for recycling or reuse. Wood that has been treated with creosote, lead-based materials or other toxic chemicals may not be suitable for recycling. Unused lumber may be sold back to the supplier.

Building Projects for Reusing Untreated Wood (Reclaimed or New):

  • Build a backyard treehouse for the kids.
  • Construct a shed for gardening tools.
  • Build your own furniture. Reclaimed wood tables are extremely popular.
  • Create an accent wall.

Wood scrap unfit for donation or building can also be chipped down to create mulch for your flowerbeds. Both chipped wood scrap and sawdust are hearty additions to your vegetable garden.

Do you have excess insulation? Count that as a blessing in disguise and pad your new home’s internal walls for increased noise reduction.

For drywall disposal, contact your local recycling center to investigate their capacity to recycle drywall into textured wall sprays, acoustical coating, stucco, fire barriers, and agricultural products.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-09-09T14:00:35+0000
Laura Bourland

Article by:

Laura Bourland

Laura grew up in the California suburbs, far removed from environmentalism, but nature always has a way. She uprooted her life in 2015, moving to the countryside of Washington to live a more sustainable and simple life on 12 acres. She and her fiancee are learning on the job as they attempt everything from gardening and natural pest control to eco-friendly building and home improvement.