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New uses found for scrapped building materials

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SLRD and Canadian Home Builders Association to host waste diversion workshop

WHAT: Construction and Demolition Waste Diversion Workshop

WHEN: March 5, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHERE: Spruce Grove Field House

According to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, construction and demolition waste currently account for up to 50 per cent of the materials deposited at the Whistler landfill, and is a significant contributor to other landfills in the corridor.

David Allen, the manager of utilities and community services for the SLRD believes that one day the majority of this waste will be reused and recycled within the construction and demolition industry and by the general public. He says there is already a powerful incentive in place for contractors to participate – tipping fees at the landfill of $116 a tonne.

"That’s pretty high, so we really have a lot of room to wiggle there, to provide programs that would lower dumping costs for contractors and the cost of materials," explains Allen.

On March 5, the SLRD and the newly formed Whistler branch of the Canadian Home Builders Association are presenting a free workshop on construction and demolition waste diversion. The workshop will discuss the opportunities that are available to local builders, the challenges they face, and waste management issues in general.

The information presented and collected at the workshop will become part of the SLRD’s Construction and Demolition Waste Management Study that will be released this spring.

Presenters at the workshop include Thomas Mueller from the Greater Vancouver Regional District, demolition waste specialist Corinne Fulton, and Paul Kernan from RDH Architects. A number of related topics will be discussed after which point participants will be asked for feedback.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. A complimentary lunch will be provided.

According to Allen, the issue of reusing and recycling waste is complicated because all materials will have to be inspected in order to comply with the building code.

Still, inspecting the materials is often cheaper than dumping it, and even the building materials that wouldn’t pass inspection for home use can be used for fences, flooring, buildings such as sheds, and decorative elements.

"For example, the work we are doing now with the demolition of the old Signal Hill elementary school shows that most of the wood can be reused, but only under certain conditions. (Material inspections) are one of the stumbling blocks for reusing these materials. It’s one thing to say ‘yeah, let’s recycle’, but it’s another to be a builder or contractor and make that work," said Allen.

One day in the near future, Allen would like to see construction waste depots in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton where construction and demolition materials could be dropped off, inspected, sorted and resold within the community.

Some of the materials, such as cardboard and wood waste from land clearing, including stumps and branches, would be diverted to a planned central composting site where it would be added to the food and yard waste.

"Like all recycling programs, these things are synergistic," said Allen. "Reusing C&D waste and recycling waste into compost may seem like two different concepts, but we think maybe a third of all C&D waste is organic.

"For the compost facility to work, we have to guarantee that there will be enough waste to compost to make it economically viable, and this is an untapped source. At the same time, the guy who is renovating his house could drop by a re-use-it centre and find the materials they need."

Reusing construction and demolition waste is not a new concept for Whistler.

When the old Dusty’s was torn down in Creekside, for example, the buildings were disassembled rather than demolished and the materials and fixtures were given away to contractors. Other buildings in the area were given a similar treatment, and the ongoing renovation to the Whistler Conference Centre is using reuse and recycle principles not only in the disposal of waste, but also in the purchase of new materials.

But while construction and demolition waste diversion projects are already underway, Allen feels that most contractors could benefit from a program that simplifies and centralizes the process.

For more information on the project or to pre-register for the workshop, contact Wendy Horan, waste reduction co-ordinator for the SLRD at 604-894-6371, or ecoed@slrd.bc.ca.

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