According to recent studies, the volume of construction waste generated every year will nearly double to 2.2 billion tons by the 2025. While some unwanted construction debris is recycled or repurposed, most is discarded.
If you’re planning a residential remodelling project, there are number of steps you can take to minimize your ecological footprint. Here’s what you need to know.
Around the world
Unfortunately, there are little to no policies or systems in place to address the issue in developing countries, where economic growth and infrastructure development is most likely to generate large amounts of waste in upcoming years.
For instance, Japan recycles close to 90 percent of its construction waste. Meanwhile, the recycling rate in China is at around 10 percent. In Brazil, less than one percent of concrete waste – one of the most common forms of construction debris – is repurposed or recycled.
Fortunately, legislative bodies around the globe are drafting policies to promote the reduction, reuse and recycling of construction waste. Upcycled concrete, for example, can be as strong as virgin concrete. The cost of recycled materials can be cheaper as well, especially as new ways of separating concrete from unwanted components like rebar are perfected.
In your own home
For those of us living in developed countries, the environmental impact of discarded construction waste from home remodelling projects can be mitigated with a bit of research and planning.
- Take the time to source appliances and materials that are repurposed or made from sustainable materials. A contractor who understands your desire to go green will work with you to achieve your goals.
- Replace appliances, air conditioning units and fixtures with products that are more energy efficient — look for the Energy Star certification.
- When replacing appliances, fixtures, and building material in your home, don’t throw it all away. A surprising number of things can be repurposed. For example, tearing down an old cabinet and turning the wood into shelving in the garage or shed will not only be more environmentally friendly, but it will also save you some money.
- If there’s nothing you can do with your replaced material, consider donating it to an organization that sells recycled appliances and building supplies. This will allow someone else to make use of it without having to buy a newly constructed item.
- As you plan your remodeling, work room by room. In the bathroom, for example, plumbing uses nearly 27 percent of a household’s monthly water. Replace showers, sinks, and toilets with equipment that uses lower volumes of water. In the kitchen, you can add low-flow faucets to complement energy efficient appliances.
- In any room, installing lights that are energy efficient not only helps the environment, but it can also lower your power consumption and save you money.
- Finally, use natural materials to avoid chemical gas-off associated with manmade synthetic products.
Lowering the amount of home remodeling construction waste will require the combined efforts of policy makers, contractors and homeowners. By following these tips and making eco-friendly construction and remodeling choices, you’ll be doing your part to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.