Sweating the Small Stuff

Deconstruction
It should be obvious by now that we’re salvaging as much as we can from Eager Street: brick, lumber, flooring, doors, architectural elements and artifacts are all being removed, processed, and packaged for donation or resale. But a few folks have asked about what happens to some of the other materials that aren’t as well suited for reuse- what happens to the bits of plaster, lath, tile, drywall, wood splinters and other materials that don’t make it out in one salvageable piece?
The short answer is that it all gets recycled. The long answer follows below:
During the interior skim, Laurence scrapes up linoleum and places it in a handily located trash can.

During the interior skim, Laurence scrapes up linoleum and places it in a handily located trash can.

Some things aren’t worth saving, but that doesn’t mean they should end up in a landfill. In the photo above, Laurence is busy scraping up linoleum tile (a material with practically zero reuse potential because of nasty mastic adhesives) that he’ll eventually deposit into a trash can which will end up in a dumpster. Dumpsters are generally associated with trash, but our dumpsters end up not at a landfill but at a recycling center. We partner with L&J Waste Recycling to ensure that the materials we put in our cans are sorted and recycled.
Here’s a fun (read: horrible and not at all fun) fact from Jeff Byles’ fantastic book “Rubble”: US demolition projects produce around 125 million tons of debris each year, enough to build a 30’x30′ wall around the entire coast of the United States. We’re loathe to contribute to this dizzying tally, so when reuse is not an option for us, recycling most certainly is.
Ron sweeps up bits of wallpaper, lath and plaster that inevitable accrue during any decon project.

Ron sweeps up bits of wallpaper, lath and plaster that inevitably accrue during any decon project.

Deconstruction, when done the right way, involves a lot of sweeping. All those tiny bits of plaster, drywall, paint chips and wood splinters add up, and constant cleaning is both safe and completely necessary. These smaller materials get recycled, too- everything gets swept into can which then gets deposited into the dumpster.
Loading a dumpster has its own technique and art to it. In traditional demolition (and construction), materials are often heaped haphazardly in a dumpster. In order to minimize air space and maximize material within the can (thus necessitating fewer trips to the recycling center), we start at one end of the dumpster and fill up every nook and cranny.
When our cans arrive at L&J, the contents are sorted by recyclable type. It’s good to know that even if we can’t process and polish up patches of drywall and shreds of lath, these items will escape landfills and get new lives down the road.

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