Solid Waste in New England
Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris
Construction and demolition (C&D) debris consists of waste that is generated during new construction, renovation, and demolition of buildings, roads, and bridges. C&D debris often contains bulky, heavy materials that include:
- Concrete, wood, and asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles)
- Gypsum (the main component of drywall)
- Metals, bricks, glass, and plastics
- Salvaged building components, such as doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures
Significant volumes of C&D debris are generated in New England. C&D debris ends up in municipal solid waste landfills or incinerators, or in special C&D landfills. EPA New England is continuing to work with many state and local governments in New England to divert this waste away from land disposal by promoting the reuse and recycling of C&D debris and reducing its generation through green building. Reducing C&D debris conserves landfill space, reduces the environmental impact of producing new materials, and can reduce overall building project expenses through avoided purchase/disposal costs. In 2002, C&D debris accounted for 36 percent of all residential and commercial solid waste generated in Massachusetts, and nearly 50 percent of the state's total commercial solid waste stream. (For more information about C&D debris in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts ).
In June 2009, the report Construction and Demolition Waste Management in the Northeast in 2006 (PDF) (65 pp, 536K) was published by the Northeast Waste Management Officials Association (NEWMOA) under a cooperative agreement with EPA New England. According to this report, the total C&D waste generation in the Northeast (the six New England States, New York and New Jersey) in 2006 was approximately 12,065,582 tons. The reported per-capita generation of C&D waste varies widely among states for various reasons, including limitations on data availability, from roughly 0.19 to 0.42 tons per person per year. C&D waste is mainly disposed in landfills – either landfills permitted to accept only C&D waste, or landfills that receive primarily municipal solid waste (MSW). The report has four primary findings:
- The availability and quality of data regarding C&D waste management is not consistent among the Northeast states, making aggregation and comparisons challenging.
- Most C&D waste ends up in a landfill – in 2006, approximately 10 percent of estimated generation was recovered for an end use outside a landfill.
- There is significant potential to increase recovery of C&D wastes - metal was the only C&D material recovered at a significant percentage of estimated generation in 2006.
- Some changes have occurred in C&D waste management since 2006, although their effects on C&D waste disposal, processing, and materials recovery have not been analyzed.
Some state and local regulations are also limiting C&D debris disposal options by prohibiting disposal in municipal landfills or incinerators, or requiring a minimum percentage of C&D debris recycling. In Massachusetts, the Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP), in its Beyond 2000 Solid Waste Master Plan, committed Massachusetts to an 88 percent reduction in C&D waste by 2010. To help achieve that goal, in July 2006 MA DEP placed a disposal and transfer ban on asphalt paving, brick, concrete, metal and wood.
Use this site to access a range of resources from New England and beyond to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle waste during construction, renovation, deconstruction, and demolition, and to help you understand some of the environmental issues associated with C&D debris.
For more specific information on state requirements and programs for C&D debris management, see State Agencies and Other Organizations.