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Construction and Demolition waste

Deconstruction of a house

Construction and demolition waste (C&D) is generated during the construction, renovation, and demolition of buildings or structures. These wastes include materials such as concrete, bricks, lumber, cardboard, drywall, landscape and other wastes. They may also contain hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos.

In Minnesota, C&D waste must be kept separate from traditional garbage collection (municipal solid waste, or MSW). Often, C&D waste is landfilled in special demolition landfills, which operate under different rules than MSW landfills. For more information: Minnesota rules for hazardous waste, solid waste, and tanks.

Tremendous opportunities exist for reusing and recycling C&D waste. The Minnesota Sustainable Design Guide provides strategies for the diversion of 80% of demolition debris and 75% of construction waste (both by volume) from landfills through salvage, recycling, and/or recovery.

Salvaged wood typically is not graded to comply with building codes for construction. To be accepted by building inspectors for reuse, salvaged wood must be approved by an engineer for its specific load-bearing use in the construction project.

Salvaged fixtures for the bathroom and lighting may be less resource-conserving than new fixtures. Striking the right balance between waste reduction vs. conservation often depends on the intended use of the salvaged item.


Easy to recycle
  • concrete (often recycled and reused at the site) 
  • steel and other metals
  • pallets 
  • packaging and paper products 
  • fluorescent tubes
Reusable materials
  • wood beams, joists, studs, baseboards
  • cabinets and cupboards
  • railings
  • brick
  • doors and casings

  • interior windows
  • bathroom fixtures
  • light fixtures
  • ceiling grid and tile
  • furnishings
  • replant trees, shrubs


Minnesota Recycling Markets Directory
Includes a listing of brokers, processors, and end users of construction and demolition wastes. Markets for shingles and gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock®) are being developed and may provide viable options in the future.

Minnesota Materials Exchange
Materials exchanges connect businesses that have reusable goods to those who can use them. Minnesota's program is a network of free services around the state, coordinated by the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP). Materials Exchange can help you find low- or no-cost materials, save money on disposal costs, and find new markets for surplus materials. Check out their online catalog or call 612-624-1300 (800-247-0015 Minnesota toll free).

Twin Cities Free Market
The Free Market, operated by Eureka Recycling, is a listing service for Twin Cities residents who want to get or give free reusable goods for the home, garage and garden. Check out the "Home Renovation" category.

Reduce construction waste

Deconstruct old buildings to salvage reusable and recyclable materials.
Hiring a deconstruction firm to handle projects ranging from light salvage and remodeling preparation to full structure dismantling for reuse can dramatically cut the amount of waste transferred to demolition landfills.

Work with building designers to make sure they understand that reducing waste is a priority.
Many opportunities exist at the design stage to use materials more efficiently. For example, designing rooms to fit standard-sized building supplies (i.e., eight-foot lengths) will greatly reduce waste. "Advanced framing" is a set of framing techniques used to reduce the amount of lumber used and waste generated in the construction of a wood-framed house.

Salvage reusable material from the construction site.
Designate an area on the construction site for reusable material. Reuse it on-site or sell it from the job site, or give it to employees or neighbors. Advertise items through the Minnesota Materials Exchange or the Twin Cities FreeMarket. Useable building materials from construction sites are accepted by some non-profit organizations, and you may get a tax break for the donation. Try Habitat for Humanity (612-331-4090 x611), the ReUse Center (612-724-2608), or Project for Pride in Living (612-789-3322).

Use salvaged materials in all building construction projects.
Deconstruction and salvaging are not viable activities unless people are willing to purchase and reuse these materials. Check the Minnesota Materials Exchange for needed items. In Winona, the Habitat ReStore (507-474-6075) offers overstocked, discontinued, slightly damaged, and used building materials for resale to the public.

Model deconstruction policy

This resolution establishing a deconstruction policy was developed by the city of Fridley, where they used the deconstruction of a single-family home as a test case before the resolution was adopted.

PDF Document Sample deconstruction policy (deconstructionresolution)

Hazardous waste considerations

To help contractors properly manage hazardous wastes generated at construction and demolition sites, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency developed a number of fact sheets:

Additional web sites and resources

Construction and Demolition Debris |
The U.S. EPA's new site contains extensive links and information about managing, reducing, reusing and recycling C&D debris. Includes excellent reports and case studies on deconstruction.

ILSR Waste to Wealth: Building Deconstruction |
The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has many useful resources on deconstruction and the reuse/recycling of C&D material, including case studies and a series of informative EPA fact sheets for download.

Reuse Development Organization (ReDO) |
ReDO is a clearinghouse for information on reuse opportunities nationwide. ReDO helps companies redistribute donations of materials too big for a single reuse center. The web site contains a good discussion of the environmental, community and economic benefits of reuse. Click on "Model Programs" for success stories such as Baltimore's The Loading Dock, Business Assets Unlimited, and Disney World's Building Materials Donations Program.

Sustainability in the Buildings Industry: How ASTM Standards are Addressing the Trend | August 2001
This article from Standardization News includes contains links to ASTM International's Subcommittee on Sustainability and two new sustainability standards.


Last modified on March 06, 2015 15:03