Construction and Demolition Waste Recycling

Construction and demolition (C&D) recycling refers to the practice of recovering, sorting, and processing materials that are generated during the construction, demolition, or renovation of buildings, roads, and other structures. This process typically involves the recovery of wood, concrete, metals, masonry, insulation, plastics, and other materials that would otherwise be sent to landfills.


Construction and demolition waste (C&D waste) primarily consist of debris that is collected during construction, renovation, and demolition of roads, bridges, and buildings, for example, materials such as:

  • Concrete
  • Wood
  • Masonry
  • Gypsum
  • Asphalt
  • Shingles
  • Metals
  • Plastics
  • Glass

The goal of C&D recycling is to reduce the amount of waste that is generated during construction and demolition activities, conserve natural resources, and reduce the environmental impact of these activities. The recovered materials can be used as feedstock for new products, reducing the need for virgin materials, and preserving finite resources.

Everyone in the construction and demolition industry can contribute by reducing waste, using materials better, and collecting waste for recycling.

The general purpose of C&D waste recycling is to process the input into valuable materials such as wood, RDF, paper, and ferrous and non-ferrous metals and minimize the waste fraction sent to landfills.

The process of C&D recycling typically involves several key steps:

  1. Collection and Transportation: C&D waste is collected and transported to a recycling facility.
  2. Sorting and Separation: Once the waste arrives at the recycling facility, it is sorted into different categories based.
  3. Crushing and Grinding: Large pieces of concrete, masonry, and asphalt are often crushed and ground into smaller pieces for easier processing.
  4. Metal Separation: Metals are separated from other materials using a magnet or eddy current separator.
  5. Wood Processing: Wood waste is typically chipped or shredded into smaller pieces for use as fuel, mulch, or in the production of engineered wood products.
  6. Final Processing: The separated materials are then processed further to produce new products or feedstock for the manufacturing of new products.

C&D recycling systems generally consist of:

C&D recycling companies produce valuable materials such as wood chips, aggregates, and metals.

For C&D recycling companies, concrete recycling is becoming an increasingly popular way to utilize aggregate left behind when demolished structures or roadways.

The most common type of C&D wood generated is dimensional lumber. Still, plywood, treated wood, and manufactured wood such as composite panels can come into a C&D recycling company.

Ferrous and non-ferrous metals can be sorted out from construction and demolition waste with a well-designed recovery process.

There are several exciting innovations happening in the construction and demolition (C&D) recycling industry. Some of the latest include:

  1. Mobile Recycling Technology: Portable recycling equipment that can be moved to construction sites is becoming increasingly popular. This technology allows contractors to recycle more waste on-site, reducing the amount of material that needs to be transported to a recycling facility.
  2. Increased Recycling Rates: Advances in sorting and separation technology have led to increased recycling rates for C&D waste. This means that more waste can be recycled, reducing the amount that is sent to landfills.
  3. Improved Data Management: Companies are now using data management systems to track waste and monitor recycling progress. This allows for more efficient and effective recycling operations and helps to identify areas for improvement.

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