Comment – Deconstruction course lacks ambition…

Laudable US training course looks to reduce landfill inputs. But does it go far enough.

Mark2_webThat the UK and US are “two nations divided by a common language” will come as no surprise to any American visitor to the UK who has been to a shop and asked for a fanny pack. But it seems that these two nations are similarly divided by their outlook on all things recycling and environmental.

Take, for example, Dave Benink of Casper, Wyoming, a well-intentioned individual who is aiming to teach his American compatriots the fine art of building deconstruction, materials resource efficiency and landfill reduction.

Benink is currently seeking a local building upon which to test his methods of extracting the maximum materials reuse. According to the Billings Gazette, Benink would like to “tear out the sheet rock and remove the cabinets. He might take the floor, too.”

According to the article, Bennink has been trying for two decades to change how people get rid of buildings. Most old structures are simply torn down; their guts dumped into a landfill. He advocates deconstructing buildings piece by piece, salvaging as much material as possible

An admirable intention in these planet-friendly, environmentally-aware times. So, just how much of the remaining arisings does Benink consider acceptable landfill fodder?

“By the time you save everything that is reuseable and recycle all of the other stuff, only 10 to 15 percent goes in the landfill,” he says.

Ten to 15 percent? On this side of the pond, that level of wastage would have you hauled before the environmental hanging judge. Indeed, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors’ membership – which are responsible for around 90 percent of all the UK’s demolition works – regularly achieve a recycling and reuse rate of close on 98 percent.

As NFDC chief executive famously said at last year’s international Demolition Summit: “If you want to learn about recycling, come tot he UK.”