News Brief

Contractors Move to End Construction Waste

Nearly 70% of waste in the U.S. comes from construction and demolition. Contractors in the Bay Area want to bring that down to zero.

a building being demolished

Demolition of concrete buildings is a huge source of construction waste in the U.S.

Photo: AngMoKio. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.
When you ask people what they’re doing for the environment, many will point to recycling as one of their primary actions. Yet recycling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, as NPR recently reported. What’s more, it’s not actually happening as consistently as we are led to believe. And that’s just as true for construction and demolition (C&D) waste as it is for consumer waste, according to a group of sustainable construction leaders in California’s Bay Area.

This group is sounding a wake-up call about recycling rates while also calling on the industry to change how it handles C&D waste. “We have identified several key issues and proposed opportunities to help move construction toward a zero-waste industry,” says a new state-of-the-industry document released by the Bay Area Sustainable Construction Leaders. According to the document:

  • Waste diversion rates are inconsistently reported and hard to track, and therefore may not be valid. Inconsistencies include whether the facility reports alternative daily cover as recycled.
  • Third-party verification of diversion rates and other metrics is limited but growing.
  • Architects and contractors need to work together to help ensure circularity.

The document also identifies best practices that can be used to reduce waste, including:

  • design for disassembly
  • identify salvageable materials prior to demolition
  • consult with waste management partners
  • salvage surplus materials

According to the group, “Our industry has an exciting opportunity to work together to push the industry toward better waste management practices and higher diversion rates from landfills than ever before.”

For more information:

Bay Area Sustainable Construction Leaders


Published October 5, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, September 28). Contractors Move to End Construction Waste. Retrieved from

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December 14, 2020 - 8:47 pm

Hello all,

The Bay Area SCL has recently posted another piece on the topic of construction waste and how COVID has impacted C&D waste handling. That article can be found below:

Many thanks to Jorel Allegro from DPR for his investigative work on this issue.

Emi LaFountain