Most people do not know this but it is the construction industry that is responsible for 3 fourths of all the consumption of natural resources around the world. Countless finite resources are being extracted in huge quantities in order to make sure the market is supplied. Also, at a construction site, huge waste is generated, all through remodeling, demolition or construction. Such waste often ends up in landfills.
With all this in mind, it is really easy to understand why homeowners started to be interested in using building materials that can be recycled. But which ones can be recycled?
If you think about what building materials are easier to recycle, here are some that you should know about.
Steel is made out of coal and iron ore, usually heated in a special blast furnace. Also, it can be made by recycling scrap. This is possible in electric furnaces.
Steel recycling is much older than you might think. It actually can be traced back to the Romans as soldiers collected war instruments in order to create brand new weapons. You can endlessly transform steel without losing quality.
As steel is recycled, energy consumption goes down by around 80%. This creates a much lower environmental impact.
Thing to note: Usually, the rebar for the reinforced concrete, nails, wires and various other metal profiles come from scrap metal.
Thanks to recycling concrete, construction waste can be reused. Also, construction costs are reduced.
When concrete is recycled, there is a special crusher utilized. It produces “recycled aggregate”.
Up until recently, we only saw recycled concrete utilized as a subfloor. However, we now know that it is useful at creating structural elements when the appropriate technologies are chosen. Recycled aggregates are lighter than virgin concrete by around 15%, so less weight is put on the structure per each cubic meter. There is also less material and transportation to deal with, which automatically keeps costs down.
The popularity of reclaimed wood is very high at the moment. Hardwoods have the possibility of lasting hundreds of years when properly kept. These can be utilized as slats or in larger structural parts.
You can also recycle cheaper, softer woods. This is especially the case with wood grinding and MDF sheet manufacture.
When regular recycling methods are not possible, you can always dispose of the wood so that it is used for the production of biomass. This sees the wood burned in large industrial furnaces.
Also known as EPS, expanded polystyrene can be recycled. It can turn into brand new raw material to create new plastic products if crushed and then compacted. Recycled EPS is useful for paints and finishes.
Glass containers and bottles are easy to recycle but it is difficult to recycle window glass. This is because of the different melting temperature and chemical composition. You cannot recycle glass from windows with other glass products. However, you can melt and then remanufacture window glass into fiberglass so that it is incorporated into asphalt and even combined in reflective road paints. You can also combine broken glass with concrete for the creation of granite countertops and floors.
It is possible to recycle plaster but when it is not disposed of properly, highly toxic fumes are emitted. This can contaminate groundwater and soil. In the event that it is properly processed, recycled plaster manages to retain some mechanical and physical characteristics of the conventional plaster, all at quite a low cost.
Other Recyclable Construction Materials
There are many other construction materials that can be recycled, like fabrics, zinc, packaging and aluminum. You also have to worry about substances like adhesives, chemical solvents and asbestos as they have to be carefully treated in order to reduce environmental impact.
It is now vital to think about the entire lifecycle of the materials used in construction. Starting with the materials mentioned above does help.