Construction, Renovation and Demolition Waste (CRD)
If you build it, they will comeit may work in the movies, but not necessarily in real life.
What we can guarantee is that if you build it, eventually you, or someone else, will want
to knock it down and build something else. The cycle of construction, renovation and
demolition (CRD), generates enormous amounts of waste materials with enormous potential
for reduction, reuse and recycling.
Construction and demolition sites typically involve large quantities of similar materials
that can be easily separated. The main components are: wood, inert materials
(concrete, brick or block), metals, building materials, and miscellaneous
(plastics, glass, roofing, insulation) (see piechart below). Much of these materials can
be reused or recycled (see our table of CRD reuse and recycling options).
Traditional demolition generates huge quantities of waste. A demolished house can add up
to 42 tonnes (92 thousand lbs) of waste to landfills.
Deconstruction, an alternative to demolition, involves manually disassembling buildings
to maximize the salvage. In its purest form, deconstruction goes beyond cherry-picking
(removal of decorative components such as antique doorknobs, fireplace mantles, and banisters)
and includes the recovery of structural timbers, wood framing, sheathing, and even bricks.
Deconstruction is labour intensive. It relies mainly on hand tools and people power to
take buildings apart. While it takes longer than with traditional demolition, the trade-off
is job creation, business development, useful materials instead of waste, and less landfill
space used. Habitat for Humanity deconstructs buildings to generate materials for sale in
Although demolition generates the bulk of CRD waste, potential exists for waste reduction
in the construction sector as well. Construction of a typical (U.S.) 2,000 sq ft home
generates about 3,636 kg of wastes:
Solid sawn wood - 727 kg
Engineered wood - 636 kg
Drywall - 909 kg
Cardboard (OCC) - 273 kg
Metals - 68 kg
Vinyl (PVC) - 68 kg
Masonry - 455 kg
Hazardous materials - 23 kg
Other - 477 kg
Many of these materials are recyclable and could, with careful planning, be reduced,
saving both material and disposal costs.
CRD waste is bulky, heavy and generated in large amounts. Much of it can be reused or recycled.
The challenge for all of us is to find ways to take advantage of all that potential,
and to do what we would like to do for every thingturn a waste into a resource.
(Source: March 2001 WasteWatch)
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