NDA calls for federal recycling regs…

National Demolition Association says US regulation is needed to encourage recycling.

Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor
Michael Taylor, executive director of the National Demolition Association in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, said there are about 14 different materials from a demolished structure that could be recycled. The association represents more than 900 demolition companies across North America.

Taylor said the marketability of C&D material is highly dependent upon location, other competitive materials, and demand. Therefore, there are currently only three materials that are regularly recycled.
Most of the metal from a demolished structure currently goes to the scrap metal industry. “That’s pretty much all of the metal from the smallest venetian blind up to the biggest I-beam,” Taylor said. “We’re the largest source of feedstock for scrap metal.”

The other two marketable C&D components are wood and concrete. Taylor said both are very region sensitive. “If you have an area where there are wood burning power plants that’s another potential market for your product,” Taylor said. “The same is true for concrete. In areas of high-aggregate demand, like Los Angeles or San Francisco, the demand for concrete coming out of demolished structures is incredibly high.”

In big stone states, like Pennsylvania or Kansas, concrete is often less competitive in price than virgin material. “With this material, if you have to transport it, with the price of fuel, more than 20 to 25 miles it tends to lose its value pretty quickly,” Taylor said.

Another element impacting the viability of C&D recycling is landfill costs, Taylor said. If the debris is removed from New York, for example, it might cost over $125 a ton to dispose of the material. But Taylor said there are places in central Michigan where it only costs $8 a ton. “That is one of the pressures that exist that has an impact in certain regions of the country on whether material is successfully recycled or not,” Taylor said.

Taylor said some states have established regulations to promote C&D recycling, while others have implemented rules that hinder the industry. He cited California where most of the counties are required to get to a 50 percent recycling rate. But it is often expensive to get a permit for a recycling facility. “That inhibits the possibility of a lot of people entering the market when they look at the overall profit margin,” Taylor said.

Another problem is in Texas. Taylor said the state ruled that recyclers could not operate a C&D facility within a mile of another occupied building. “That’s not a problem if you are demolishing a silo way out in west Texas,” Taylor said. “But unfortunately most of our work is in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. If you want to process the material onsite we’re going to be feet from another building, not a mile.”

Taylor said that to successfully implement a viable C&D recycling system across the country the federal government, through the Environmental Protection Agency, should develop a national C&D recycling policy. He said this would make the process more economically attractive and help develop markets for the recycled commodities.

Taylor cited a mandate by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s that required the federal government to buy recycled paper. The government is one of the largest buyers of paper in the world. “Recycling plants sprung up all over the country,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the federal government should recommend that the state department of transportations and state facility managers allow recycled material to be used. “If the federal government could promote recycling then a decent portion of the material would be used in projects and not sent to a landfill. Recycling would grow,” Taylor said.