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Beyond Waste


Construction and Demolition Debris

Photo: Reusable building material salvaged from demolition site in wheelbarrow.

This indicator tracks the amount of construction and demolition (C&D) debris that is generated and recycled or diverted from disposal annually in Washington.

C&D debris includes:

  • Materials from the construction, renovation, repair, and demolition of houses and large building structures.
  • Materials from infrastructure such as roads, bridges, piers, and dams.

Examples of C&D materials include concrete, asphalt, wood, gypsum, fixtures, roofing, lumber, metals, plastic, pipe, cardboard, carpet and carpet pad, and land-clearing debris. These materials made up about 36 percent of all wastes generated in 2011. Most C&D debris could be diverted from landfills and reused, made into new building products or used as fuel. These wastes have an impact on the environment, economy, and greenhouse gases, and are tracked as a measure of the success of the green building initiative.

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Construction and Demolition Debris Data


The amount of C&D debris generated in Washington State increased steadily between 2003 and 2006. It held steady in 2007 and decreased slightly in 2008 and 2009, likely in connection with the recession. In 2010 the amount of C&D disposed increased with residents and businesses in Washington generating 6.6 million tons of C&D debris, up almost 800 thousand tons from 5.8 million tons in 2009. In 2011 the amount of C&D disposed and recycled decreased to about 2009 levels.

The overall trend for recycling C&D debris increased over the time span of this graph from 2.4 million tons in 2003, to 3.7 million tons in 2011. While there have been slight decreases from 2006 to 2008, and again in 2011, recycling of C&D debris reached a high of 4 million tons in 2010.

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Construction and Demolition Debris Data


The annual percentage of C&D materials recycled and diverted from disposal is shown above to provide a perspective on the rate at which these materials are being recycled in Washington. From 2003 to 2008, the recycling rate for C&D material was generally declining, and in 2009 it started to increase again. A major factor in the increase of the C&D materials diversion rate in 2009 and 2010 was a decline in the amount of inert material (including soil, rock, and gravel) reported disposed in landfills. In 2011, even more material was recycled and diverted than disposed, resulting in a 63 percent recycling rate, the highest ever for this material.

This indicator has approximately a 1.5-year time lag due to the process of gathering, compiling, and analyzing data and distributing information to stakeholders.

What are the benefits of reducing the amount of C&D material generated and increasing C&D recycling?

  • Conserves valuable resources.
  • Saves money.
  • Saves energy.
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.
  • Conserves landfill space.

What is being done to decrease C&D material generated and increase recycling in Washington?

Ecology and other organizations are:

  • Providing technical assistance to local governments working on construction and demolition waste issues.
  • Coordinating with local health jurisdictions to inspect C&D material recovery facilities to ensure they are operated in a manner that protects human health and the environment and in compliance with applicable solid waste regulations.
  • To address sham recycling, Ecology staff are working with local health jurisdictions to inspect C&D material recovery facilities to ensure they are operated in compliance with applicable solid waste regulations that protect human health and the environment.
  • Transportation of recyclable materials and sham recycling are very closely linked so we are also updating the list of registered transporters. We are verifying that all known transporters covered under WAC 173-345 are registered with Ecology as such, and have common carrier permits with the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC).
  • Developing new uses and markets for recycled materials, such as paint and carpet.
  • Providing technical assistance to developers and builders on materials selection and recycling.
  • Partnering with local governments and organizations to promote industry education of building material reuse and C&D recycling.
  • Partnering with regional organizations to build demand for residential and commercial green building projects.

Want more information on construction and demolition debris?


For more information, contact Gretchen Newman, 360-407-6097.

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This page last updated May 2013