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Waste Not
Construction & Demolition Recycling a $7.4 Billion Industry

Construction and demolition materials (C&D) recycling is a $7.4 billion industry, according to a new report by the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA). And when considering indirect and induced economic output, the industry could be worth over $17 billion.

C&D materials are recognized as one of the largest components of the solid waste stream in the US. While much of this is recycled for purely economic reasons, avoidance of landfill disposal of materials such as concrete, wood, gypsum drywall and asphalt shingles has benefits well beyond financial ones, CDRA says.

C&D materials recycling results in a greater job creation and industrial activity relative to landfilling. Avoidance of landfilling also provides for a greater degree of environmental protection, a smarter use of natural resources, energy savings and a net decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2012, the C&D recycling industry was responsible for the direct support of 19,000 jobs in the United States, the CDRA report says. Much of this is due to the fact that facility owners have invested over $4.5 billion in the development and construction of C&D recycling infrastructure.

That same year, C&D generated around 480 million tons in the US, which consisted of 100 million tons of mixed C&D, 310 million tons of bulk aggregate (primarily concrete) and 70 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement.

Over 70 percent of this waste stream was projected by CDRA as being recovered and put to beneficial use by the C&D recycling industry. The area of landfill avoided by recycling this amount of C&D is equivalent to over 4,300 acres at a waste depth of 50 ft).

The estimated magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions offset in 2012 corresponded to taking 4.7 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year, the report says. The energy savings was equivalent to over 85 million barrels of oil.

In related news, Detroit late last year launched a new initiative that unites local industries and institutions, along with entrepreneurs and small business owners, to create closed-loop systems in which one organization’s waste becomes raw material for another. Reuse Opportunity Collaboratory (ROC) features prominent bodies such as General Motors and the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD) coming together with local organizations including Fairmount Minerals, CXCatalysts, Pure Michigan Business Connect, and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.


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