|Powerful forces drive C&D recycling
San Francisco’s rules for construction and demolition require companies to recycle or reuse at least 65 percent of materials generated from a job. Across the country in New Hampshire, activists are urging the legislature to rewrite the state’s recycling rules to ban all construction and demolition (C&D) materials from landfills. And in some states such as Connecticut, rules forbid trucking any materials, including C&D materials, for disposal in other states.
The situation presents an obstacle and an opportunity for an industry that, according to estimates, annually recycles hundreds of millions of tons of materials left behind by building and demolition projects. On one hand, the restrictions, including steadily increasing tipping fees on disposing of C&D debris encourage recycling. On the other, there are challenges finding uses for recycled materials, along with tighter rules about popular applications such as burning salvaged wood for fuel.
Mike Taylor, executive director of the National Demolition Association, is confident that solutions will be found. “Recycling has always been part of demolition and construction,” he said. “We remain the largest source of recycling feedstock around the world, and we have been adding materials into the stream.”
Currently, recyclers make use of concrete, wood, sheetrock, plastics, shingles, glass, carpeting and metals such as rebar, wiring and flashing. Concrete, metals, wood and asphalt are especially recycle-ready. And Taylor said recycling the rest is quite feasible. “Simply put, in the right set of circumstances with the right market, you can recycle just about everything that comes out of a building,” he said. ...read more
Car recyclers see market rebound
After a 2011 that represented a rebound from the lows of the recession years, auto recycling industry members and suppliers are hoping for a return to stability and greater prosperity. The near future, according to interviews with executives in the field, will be driven by new markets, new technologies and the ultimate replacement of the country’s aging fleet of automobiles.
“2011 was not a record-breaking year, but it was close,” said Curt Spry, scrap sales manager at Al-Jon Manufacturing, Ottumwa, Iowa, which manufactures metal recycling and landfill compaction equipment. “And we look for 2012 to be the same.”
At OverBuilt, Inc., a maker of car crushers and baler-loggers in Huron, South Dakota, sales manager Jeff Hebbert said 2011 continued a trend from 2010 of modest recovery from the lows of 2009. “Predicting how long that’s going to last is like predicting the stock market,” Hebbert said. “But all indications are that the people in the recycling industry are very optimistic about 2012.”
That’s not to say the industry doesn’t face challenges. Competition from foreign buyers and unregulated domestic salvage operations continues to drive up prices for salvage vehicles. Meanwhile, manufacturers of new parts are, in some cases, matching prices for used parts, catching recyclers in something of a bind.
However, auto recycling remains an estimated $23 billion industry with more than 8,000 participants. The Vehicle Recycling Partnership (VRP) of the United States Council for Automotive Research, a joint technology research venture by Chrysler Ford General Motors, said Americans discard approximately 13 million end-of-life vehicles (ELV) each year. About 95 percent go through some form of recycling, resulting in the recycling of about 84 percent by weight of each vehicle, according to VRP. ...read more