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Construction and Demolition Recycling in Colorado Springs
Experts estimate 35-40 percent of all solid waste in the United States comes from construction and demolition (the State of Colorado does not keep statistics on construction and demolition (C&D) waste).
 
Recycling, rather than trashing, C&D materials is a growing component of green building practices. Therefore, local organizations that strive for green building certifications are keenly aware of how much of their materials they are able to recycle locally. When Gerald H. Phipps Construction Co. built the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' Science and Engineering Building, they were able to recycle 94 percent of materials, but in some cases had to transport the materials to Denver to do so.  GE Johnson Construction Co. diverted 3.2 million pounds of construction waste from the landfill during construction of the Stratton Point Building (the new United States Olympic Committee headquarters) despite the space restriction challenges of an urban downtown setting. Hensel Phelps Construction, which is currently building a local military facility, has been able to recycle up to 65 percent of their materials with fairly routine measures, such as separate bins for cardboard, metal and concrete materials.
 
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling such material helps to preserve natural resources by decreasing the demand for virgin materials and conserving energy, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the demand for products made from energy-intensive manufacturing processes. The EPA also states that C&D materials can save money by decreasing disposal and materials costs for end users.

Yet, Hensel Phelps Construction staff say that while they haven't run the numbers, they do believe they are paying more to incorporate recycling than it would cost to take the same materials to the landfill. It's not a simple calculation to determine because even though trash haulers do charge more for the separate bins, contracts can also ensure that the contractor is cut a slice of any revenue generated from the materials. Local business Western Scrap, for example, pays for items that are at least 40 percent aluminum, copper/brass, stainless steel, or ferrous metal. When construction materials are in re-sellable condition, such as used sinks, lighting and unused excess drywall, they can be disposed of at no cost at The ReStore, a non-profit supporting Habitat for Humanity. Other local C&D recycling service providers, such as Rocky Top Resources, Recycled Aggregate Products Co, and Asphalt Recovery Specialists, Inc. don?t pay for materials, but do charge less than landfill disposal rates.
 
With recent federal and state mandates for green building practices and a growing desire for LEED-certified buildings, the demand for C&D recycling services is likely to grow. At a recent panel discussion sponsored by the City of Colorado Springs and BETTR Recycling, Inc., the top local C&D recycling business opportunities suggested currently missing in Colorado Springs centered around creation of a C&D sorting facility, roof shingle reprocessing, gypsum (drywall), auto/window glass, and toilets.
 
C&D recycling in Colorado Springs has taken a recent step forward with Asphalt Recovery Specialists, Inc. opening its doors for roofing shingles. (Asphalt roof shingles have been successfully recycled into roads in Boulder and other parts of the country.) However, Asphalt Recovery Specialists does not process the material locally.

Local processing is considered the best-case scenario for its resulting lowered carbon footprint, job creation economic impact and ability to be reincorporated as a new product into green buildings for additional LEED certification points as both locally sourced and recycled material.

One C&D recycling opportunity is toilet crushing. The City of Fort Collins allows toilets (which can?t be reused due to code requirements that ban reinstalling outdated water-guzzling models) to be dropped off at no cost. Fort Collins then uses the material as road base.
 
A source of funding designed to help launch such efforts is the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) grant offered by the State of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The RREO grant was created in 2007, and renewed in 2010, through state-wide landfill surcharges. As of yet, no Colorado Springs or El Paso County projects have been funded.  In August, Colorado Springs and El Paso County stakeholders attended a state-sponsored Recycling Visioning Workshop in Pueblo to provide feedback on how future RREO funds should be distributed to meet recycling needs.
 
Colorado Springs Resources:
  • Rocky Top Resources - most yard waste such as branches, logs, pine needles, grass, leaves, sod, fencing (as long as it is not stained, painted, or treated) and dirt. Remade into mulch and compost.
  • Recycled Aggregate Products Co - for a price (less than the landfill, based on size, cleanliness and amount of embedded metal), takes concrete, asphalt and brick. Remade into road base, road aggregate, and backfill material. 2255 E Las Vegas St., Colorado Springs (719) 575-0785 
  • The Restore - Construction materials in re-sellable condition may be donated to support local Habitat for Humanity homes. They sell the items back to the public at steep discounts.
  • Western Scrap - Will pay for metal (aluminum, copper/brass, stainless steel, ferrous) items, such as appliances and broken equipment, that are no less than 40% metal.
  • Asphalt Recovery Specialists - takes asphalt roofing shingles for a price (less than the landfill) 5565 E Bijou Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80916 Phone: 719-597-1963
View September 2010