Case Studies

Vancouver

The City of Vancouver has set a goal to become a city of zero waste by 2040. One of their priority actions was increasing diversion of C&D waste.

In 2014, Vancouver passed The Greener Demolition Act, requiring the diversion of 70 to 90 percent of C&D materials from landfills. This law also states that those who receive a construction permit are required to enter into an agreement with a construction waste carrier.

In 2016, Vancouver managed to divert 86% of C&D residues from landfills, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District banned clean wood and gypsum from its waste disposal and trans-shipment facilities. Furthermore, the main source of C&D waste in Vancouver is excavated soil and rubble, which companies in Vancouver are now turning into blended landscaping soil to fulfill the demand of engineered soils. By investing in companies that produce recycled engineered products, Vancouver has reported a 23% reduction in solid waste disposal in 2017.

The city has also incentivized C&D recycling by providing funding of up to $250,000 to provide financial support to establish and operate a non-governmental deconstruction hub. 

Chicago

The City of Chicago has passed Construction and Demolition Site Waste Recycling Ordinance in order to promote recycling of C&D debris. Under this ordinance, contractors must report the weight of C&D debris that is produced on site, disposed of, and recycled or reused.

The ordinance also requires that at least 50% of the recyclable debris that is generated is recycled. The recyclable C&D waste can either be sorted on site and separated by C&D debris type into designated containers or placed for collection in a mixed recyclables container on site and sorted off site at a properly permitted recycling facility. The contractor must also submit a C&D Debris Recycling Compliance Form to the City of Chicago Department of Construction and Permit (DCAP) at the end of each project, where the contractor reports the percentage of C&D debris generated and recycled or reused for each project. In addition, if the contractor has used a waste hauler or recycler, the contractor is required to submit an affidavit along with Compliance Form. This affidavit should include a C&D debris log which accounts for the weight or volume of all C&D debris collected or accepted from the contractor by the waste hauler or recycler. In case the required recycling percentage is not met, the contractor has to pay a penalty. 

New York

About 6 millions tons of construction and demolition waste is generated in New York City every year and approximately 50% of recycled every year, which excludes clean fill materials. Currently, New York City does not enforce a minimum recycling rate for C&D projects, but it does have an active recycling sector for certain C&D materials.

Apart from source separation, an effective strategy for New York is regulating waste haulers and facilities.  There are over 1000 registered waste haulers with permits and 50 debris processing facilities in New York City. Contractors must hire a registered hauler and the hauler must take materials to a registered processing facility to ensure materials are properly processed for recycling and reuse. This streamlined process ensures that C&D debris is handled correctly and recycling rates are maximized. Finally, all registered C&D processing facilities must submit annual operating reports annually which helps the City of New York track their progress. 

San Fransisco

By San Francisco law, all C&D debris material removed from a project must be recycled or reused. No C&D debris can be taken to the landfill or put in the garbage. Full demolition of an existing structure requires a Demolition Debris Recovery Plan (DDRP) and must first be approved by the Department of the Environment. Any person or company found in noncompliance with the ordinance may incur substantial civil and/or criminal penalties, including fines and suspension of their registration.

In implementing this program, San Francisco hopes to achieve a minimum 65% diversion rate. On the job site, C&D debris material is typically separated by type (source-separated) for reuse or recycling and must be taken to a facility that reuses or recycles those materials. The ordinance requires that all mixed C&D debris is transported off-site by a Registered Transporter and taken to a Registered Facility that processes all loads containing mixed C&D debris for recycling, and complete full reporting. 

Seattle

The amount of construction materials generated at Seattle job sites was estimated to be 532,000 tons in 2016 with around 64% recycled and another 9% “beneficially used”, such as industrial boiler fuel, for a total landfill disposal diversion rate of 72%.  Seattle’s goal for recycling is 70% of the construction materials city-wide by 2020 (not including “beneficial use”). To reach their goal, Seattle Public Utilities implemented the following set of programs: 

  • Landfill disposal bans on readily recyclable C&D materials began in 2012
  • Certifying the recycling levels at recycling facilities which receive and process C&D materials from Seattle jobs
  • Requiring building permit holders to file a waste diversion report to show compliance with disposal bans
  • All demolition and major tenant improvement projects of 750 square feet or greater or $75,000 or more in value must fill out a Salvage Assessment by a salvage verifier (in the case of whole building removal) or by the owner (in the case of alterations) in order to obtain a Building Permit from the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections (SDCI)
    • Upon project completion all demolition projects and all new construction and alteration projects with a value of $75,000 or greater must submit a Waste Diversion Report to SPU.
  • Only Qualified Receiving and Recycling Facilities who meet SPU standards are allowed to receive and process C&D
  • Contractors and haulers who deliver C&D materials to these facilities will be considered to be in compliance with the city’s recycling requirements and disposal bans
  • In 2021, SPU will start issuing any fines for non-compliance

Table 1. Comparison of C&D waste management related information within selected municipalities, countries, and regions.

City, Country or regionAnnual generation of C&D waste (million tonnes)Generation of C&D waste per unit land area (tonne/km2)Average tipping fee for solid waste ($/tonne)1Minimum requirement for C&D waste recovery (%)2Actual requirement for C&D waste recovery (%)Year of Study 
Japan337761.63802015
Europe87085.510270752015
Group A70Over 85
Group B470Below 30
Singapore7.6510,60357602015
Australia182.3468572015
U.S.48549.360
2015
Austin
65502018
Chicago1.72,8054550852018
San Francisco111652018
Seattle 0.5322,45113470722016
New York67,655119~502003
Canada60-100122016
Vancouver0.726,2618270862018
Calgary0.250180814020-302014
Ontario<152012
China1500-2400162-2501152015

1 The average tipping fee has been adjusted to the 2015 U.S. dollar value per tonne of solid waste.

Note: The data was retrieved from multiple sources including The University of Leeds (2017), City of Chicago (2018), Government of Singapore (2018), City of San Francisco (2019), Government of Ontario (2012), City of New York (2003), City of Calgary (2018), City of Vancouver (2018).

2 C&D waste is considered by weight and excludes soil and stone. Minimum requirement is typically set by the municipalities with the exception of the European Union.

3 Group A is comprised of Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Czech Republic, U.K, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Netherlands, LithuaniaItaly, Slovenia, Ireland, Austria and Latvia. Netherlands observes the highest diversion rate at 98%..Group B is comprised of  Finland, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Slovakia.