Construction site cleanup is an essential aspect of all construction-related work when you consider the large quantities of waste materials that are generated. Whether it is new structures that are being built or old structures being demolished, there is a lot of debris which has to be disposed of in a careful manner. Construction site cleanup should be done in a way that is eco-friendly, safe, and cost-effective.
Even though a large portion of the materials that are leftovers from a construction site are recyclable, they are still sent to landfills, which is a huge waste of valuable resource and materials. The best way to tackle this is to make sure that the recyclable materials are segregated from the non-recyclable materials during a construction site cleanup.
There is any number of toxic waste materials that could be left behind in construction waste, so this must first be assessed. When old buildings are demolished, there is likely to be a large amount of toxic waste from paints that contain lead and biocides containing mercury. There could also be fluorescent lamps containing mercury, leaded pipes, PCP ballasts, asbestos insulation, etc. In the construction of new buildings, the waste generated could be roofing tars, glue, solvent waste, paints and treated woods. These wastes should be segregated as toxic and non-toxic, and then as reusable and non-reusable. A door that has paint that is lead-based could be reused, but if it were to be discarded, it would have to be classified as dangerous waste.
When a building that is being demolished has structures that are of architectural or ornamental value, it is taken down and preserved carefully for sale or reuse. Doors and windows are regularly reused. Other materials that can be reused are carpets which can be recycled, gypsum board which can be used as an amendment for soil, and shingles which can be used for patching up roads. Cement blocks and bricks are also reused after mixing them with asphalt and concrete. This is then used to form the foundation for driveways and road beds. Wood lumber that is untreated and unpainted can be used as dimensional lumber or used in composting and landscaping after being chipped. It can also be used for trail surfaces, soil amendment, and to prevent soil erosion.
Here is a short list of substances that can be recycled from construction site debris:
- PVC pipes
- Vinyl siding
- Carpet pads
- Aluminum siding
- Asphalt shingles
- Brick or masonry
- Antiques or ornamental stonework
- Wood debris
- Gas pipes
- Metal pipes
- Plumbing fixtures that are porcelain
Each state in the United States would have its own rules on how construction site cleanup debris should be segregated, categorized, and recycled. It is always better to have an evaluation of recyclable materials done before the building is demolished than after the demolition is over. This can help to remove specific toxic waste prior to demolishing the whole structure.