The construction and repair of buildings, homes, and other structures generates a great deal of waste. Demolition and renovation projects, including roads and bridges, create significantly more waste than construction projects. Together, construction and demolition (C&D) debris from these types of projects is the second largest type of waste to be landfilled in Texas, according to the 2021 Recycling Market Development Plan. However, much of that debris can be reused or recycled! In fact, C&D recycling in Texas is a burgeoning $361 million industry in Texas. As the state’s population continues to grow, more C&D debris will be generated, creating even more opportunity to recycle.
C&D debris includes items from buildings, bridges, and road projects such as concrete, asphalt, bricks, lumber, steel, wiring, drywall, carpets, windows, piping, soil, and more. Since C&D projects often require clearing land, they can also generate a large amount of wood waste. Other items found in smaller amounts include ceiling tiles, appliances, insulation, and materials generated on job sites, like plastic and cardboard.
At a construction or demolition site, materials may be mixed in a dumpster for collection. This can present challenges for recycling, as mixed C&D materials must then be separated at a processing facility prior to recycling. There are approximately 50 companies recycling C&D materials in Texas, but only a limited number of those facilities can process mixed C&D.
Recon Services, Inc. is one of the largest and is in the Austin area. The facility has made impressive achievements in mixed C&D recycling by using automation and robotics to address contamination, improve sorting, and increase the amount of material they can cost-effectively recycle. Recon implemented their advanced system in 2017 and within one month reported that they had achieved an 80% recycling rate while saving an average of $2 million per year in landfill costs. Recon’s efforts were recognized with TCEQ’s Texas Environmental Excellence Award in 2018 for Innovative Operations/Management, and were awarded the Construction Demolition Recycling Association’s (CDRA) Recycler of the Year for 2018.