Metro has a great idea going. In a first-of-its-kind effort in the nation, the Portland metro area’s regional government has created an online marketplace for usable commercial construction materials that have been taken out of a building during renovation or demolition. Need a door? A window? Well, it's only a click away now.
About 20% of the total landfill-bound waste created in our area comes from construction. Metro seeks a regional recycling rate of 64 percent by 2009. Currently it’s at 59 percent. This should help.
Called Boneyard NW, the website replicates the model of such online purveyors as eBay and Craig’s List.
A recent study by Metro of recycling among construction and demolition contractors showed that some of them were recycling materials such as wood, metal and cardboard, but that construction companies often lacked current information about the opportunities for reuse, recycling and the sale and purchase of salvaged materials.
Here are some other interesting facts about construction recycling I gleaned from the Boneyard press release:
Contractors have three types of choices when getting rid of materials: disposal, which costs about $70 per ton; sorting and recycling, at about $30 per ton; and removing salvageable materials to sell them, making money while turning what would have been debris into a product. On a typical 50,000-square foot commercial office renovation project, Metro says contractors could make $10,000-$20,000 off the resale of used building materials, avoiding another $5,000 in disposal costs.
The top ten commercial materials that are easiest to reuse, according to a 2004 Metro survey of building professionals, are:
1. Finish wood (flooring, moldings, sidings and trim)
2. Doors, windows and storefronts
3. Structural wood
4. Masonry (brick, concrete, glass and stone)
5. Cabinets and casework
6. Lighting and electrical fixtures (lights, switches, wiring)
7. Door and window hardware
8. Plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets and other fixtures)
9. Special interior items (cubicles, partitions, lockers)
10. Concrete form work
Every three tons of wood that is reused avoids the creation of 180 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions that would have been created to harvest and mill new lumber. This savings is equivalent to more than 1,000 passenger cars off the road.
While Metro region contractors are recycling more than they ever have before, of the 250,000 tons (65,000 full drop boxes) that contractors are still throwing away, Metro estimates that about 60 percent of that material could have been recycled or reused.
Congrats to Metro on a great program.