C&D materials not always
Some states and cities have legislation requiring
that construction and demolition materials be diverted
from landfills, but this is far from being a universal
situation. William Turley, the executive director
of Construction Materials Recycling Association,
believes that more could and should be done to
recycle these materials, and provided American
Recycler with an overview of the current situation
affecting this sector of the recycling industry.
With the recession ongoing, have markets for
the recovered C&D materials been expanding
or have they remained stable? How is the industry
coping in these tough times?
Turley: What we’ve seen is a fallback on public
works projects that would use recycled aggregates,
which is our main market. In California they are
broke, so they are not doing a lot of road and
infrastructure work. That really hurts our roadbase
market for recycled aggregate, concrete and asphalt.
What’s happening in California is occurring in
other parts of the country.
However, a lot of other markets still remain strong
– C&D wood as a fuel product and asphalt shingle
recycling still seems to be expanding because of
the economic advantages it brings.
In terms of recovered C&D materials, which
products are providing the highest return?
Turley: It depends, and usually we are seeing asphalt
shingles doing well because it provides an opportunity
for hot mix producers using the shingles – the
biggest market for shingles – to save $2 to $4
a ton. If you are doing 100,000 to 200,000 tons
a year, it adds up to real money. Asphalt shingles
seem to be doing the best.
Are more cities and states passing laws to increase
the percentage of materials that must be recovered
and recycled from demolitions?
Turley: There has been more interest in this and
we have seen a few more cities and states passing
laws requiring that. Anyone can pass a law saying
“thou shall recycle,” but it’s more important to
develop the markets and many times these same cities
and states that are requiring these materials to
be recycled are not the ones buying it back all
The best example remains recycled aggregates. The
biggest market for these materials is to be put
back into roadwork and the biggest customer for
new roads and upgrades are the cities and states,
but they don’t complete the circle. We would like
to see more actions that lead towards that goal.
Should states be increasing the tipping fees
for C&D materials to as a means to help improve
the recycling rates of materials recovered from
Turley: Increasing the tipping fee at landfills
is kind of an artificial barrier that you are creating.
It would probably help, but developing an end-market
for these products would pull more materials from
the waste stream.
To what extent are LEED certified construction
projects helping in terms of the recycling of C&D
Turley: LEED remains a driver for mixed C&D
recycling, especially the mixed C&D recyclers.
I did a poll several months ago at our board and
learned that LEED accounts for 15 percent of their
business. Because of the recession in construction,
a lot of commercial projects are not seeking LEED
certification because it can cost a little more.
For quasi-governmental jobs such as universities,
there are still many LEED projects.
We have a lot of issues with LEED and there are
problems with some sham recycling going on, such
as a sub-par recycling facility claiming an incredible
recycling rate that is not possible with the equipment
and techniques that it uses. There is no way to
certify that it is being done correctly. We are
currently working with the United States Green
Building Council to solve that problem to develop
a third party certification program.
As governments push for increased production
of alternative energy, has there been a corresponding
increase in demand for recovered C&D wood to
help produce biomass?
Turley: We have not seen this demand, but we expect
it to grow. There have been some questions about
the use of C&D wood as a fuel product, even
natural wood/forest wood, by environmental groups.
While it does make sense to use this wood, sometimes
our only alternative for it is the landfill because
it is good for nothing else. We should recover
the BTU value. We are not seeing a demand increase
yet, but there are a lot of biomass plants on the
board and we are hoping that it will eventually
drive the demand and prices to develop a market
for it. The State of Maine uses a lot of C&D
wood, but California is still the leader.
Have any new practices or innovations in the
field of C&D recovery and recycling been introduced?
Are there any interesting pilot projects and research
that are showing promise?
Turley: One of the most interesting projects I
know of is the use of gasification systems, not
to be confused with incineration. These systems
can take C&D materials to generate power.
Although they are not there yet, it is exciting
that they are working on systems to take our residuals
to recover BTU value and create fuel. It would
be nice to eliminate the need to send this material
to a landfill and instead sent it to a gasification
system after we are done pulling out everything
Is the construction industry doing enough to
promote the use of construction materials made
from recycled content for road work and commercial
and residential construction?
Turley: It depends on what you are looking at.
The road building industry would like to use as
much recycled aggregates as possible because it
is cheaper. The engineering characteristics work
and they don’t have to truck out the old material
and bring in the new, especially for the base of
the road. They usually try to do that as long as
state departments of transportation go along with
Are there any federal or state programs that
provide tax credits for using building materials
made from recycled content?
Turley: Not really. They usually offer a sales
tax credit for the purchase of recycling equipment.
We would love to see tax credits offered for the
purchase of building materials made from recycled
content. If you want to see an increase in C&D
recycling rate, just give us more markets.