Better C&D Waste Management
To separate on site or to not separate on site: This has become a topic of debate and opinion. For discussion purposes I want to make sure everyone is up to speed on the difference between the two.
Source Separation: The method of separating waste at the source of generation into the various recovered material groups. For construction waste, this is simply dividing the waste flow into various “like” waste materials at the job site. Whether it’s creating various piles on the ground, placing it in bins or using multiple roll-off containers, if you are throwing all your clean wood into a separate pile – you are source separating your wood waste.
Mixed C&D Recycling Facility: A facility that specializes in the recovery of recyclable material from a mixed C&D waste stream. The waste from the project site is disposed in a container and then transported to the facility (not the landfill) where the waste is dumped on a concrete pad. Trained workers separate the load into various recovered materials.
One method verses the other does not mean that one is the good guy and one is bad. They can potentially accomplish the same thing; however, there are several key factors that determine the feasibility or economics of choice. The use of a recycling facility is normally the most convenient if one is available. With most other factors ignored, this method requires 1 can or central point of collection of the mixed waste. This is generally the same collection & storage method implemented if the debris were to be disposed at the landfill. A good recycling facility will maximize recovery by using specialized equipment, methods, facilities and skilled workers. A good mixed waste recycling facility should easily achieve 50-60% recovery while specialized facilities can achieve 75-90% recovery. While there are tip fees associated with the tonnage disposed at the facility, rates of recovery are proven and proper project record keeping can guarantee LEED credits for project waste recovery.
The Source Separation method requires more involvement on the contractor’s part. He/she must determine what waste can be separated and the best way to store / collect the waste, find markets or disposal facilities for the separated material and then, prior to and while implementing the plan, someone must train the subcontractors and project labor force how to follow the plan. He/she must establish a monitoring program to keep everyone on track and finally, develop a data collection system for determining if the efforts qualify for LEED credits towards waste recovery.
Our many years of experience show that source separation has many critical paths and will create many inherent points of potential failure. Therefore, it is important to evaluate some key points before making the final decision:
- Is there a permitted C&D waste recycling facility within 50 miles?
- Are the local subcontractors / labor force skilled / trained in waste recycling?
- Does the project have enough room for multiple containers necessary for source separation?
- What is the cost of multiple containers verses one container?
- What is the cost of on-site management of waste verses cost of recycling facility fees?
- If I source separate, where will I take the different recovered recyclables?
- Can I or do we have experienced waste managers to implement a source separation plan?
Answering these few questions can help guide your decision. Obviously projects have their own merits that may dictate one verses the other. But when faced with the choice, proper planning can make achieving LEED credits for waste recovery a breeze!