Estimating the Impact

While the recycling of C&D materials in modern times has been going on since the end of WWII, it has been in recent years the industry has really experienced tremendous growth. But how big is the industry? What is its economic impact? What are the environmental benefits it brings? There have been several back of the envelope guesses on these topics, but the Construction Materials Recycling Association is planning to do a comprehensive estimate of both of these sectors.

The value of this information is it will show the importance of C&D recycling. For example, it employs thousands of people and is helping the U.S. economy. Related to that, what is the effect of recycling concrete, wood and other materials have on the environment? The benefits are huge. It is this type of information those already recycling C&D or those looking to get into the business can show the government and the general public how important C&D recycling actually is.

The CMRA board of directors will be discussing this project at its meeting March 22, 2011, at the Paris Resort and Casino. All CMRA members are invited to attend.

Certification—Many C&D recyclers have complained that some of their competitors have been lying about facility recycling rates in order to provide better numbers and benefits to customers looking for green building points. This fraud is hurting the image of the C&D recycling industry and legitimate recyclers. The CMRA’s proposed program to certify the recycling rates of C&D recycling facilities is about to be available for public comment, the last step before it is rolled out. The plan is to get legitimate recycling rates at C&D facilities and expect the green building programs, including the biggest, LEED, to recognize that only those facilities should be used for green building programs. More information will be available in the coming weeks at

112/129 Boiler Regulations—Right before we went to press with this issue, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited rules on boiler fuels, including those for C&D wood. The section relevant to the wood appears on page 31, including a quick analysis of what the rules mean. However, the 359 page document is (purposely?) written in regulatory parlance that is as easy to read as James Joyce’s Ulysses is for a high school freshman.

While the agency went out of its way to say “clean” C&D wood is a traditional fuel, meaning it could be used in less stringent Section 112 boilers, the question remains about what could be considered typical ingredients in large amounts of mixed C&D wood biomass, such as paints or plywood. Eventually the CMRA is going to have to ask the EPA for clarification, but after reading a large part of the document, we probably will be in line as most of the other fuels discussed, such as tires and sewage sludge, will be in asking the EPA what it means.