March 18 is Global Recycling Day. This day was first recognized in 2018 to recognize and celebrate the importance that recycling plays in preserving resources and the future of our planet. Its goal is to ensure that recycling is recognized as a global issue and asks people across the world to reduce waste, especially when it comes to everyday goods. Each year, recycling saves over 700 million tons in CO2 emissions and is projected to increase to one billion tons by 2030. The six key natural resources – water, air, oil, natural gas, coal, and minerals – are the foundation of human civilization in the 21st century, with most food, travel, and belongings coming from these elements. As many of these finite resources run out, it is imperative that we work to reduce waste and stop carelessly running through Earth’s natural resources.
The construction industry is notorious for wasted materials and creating large streams of waste material. In fact, in Pennsylvania, construction and demolition waste make up approximately 17.5 percent of the state’s municipal waste stream. In 2019, building demolition saw an average of only 33% of materials being reused. Ultimately, construction companies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint while saving money, by committing to recycling and reducing waste in their daily work.
Reducing the number of resources on a project can come in several ways. Recycling is important, but it is significantly less efficient than simply using fewer materials in the first place. Prefabrication and modular construction are great ways to reduce materials and material waste on construction sites. The reason for this, is that manufacturers are focused on creating precise conditions to produce efficient, high-quality materials. In addition to reducing waste, prefabrication improves productivity, reduces scheduling issues, safety concerns, and cost.
Careful separation of building material like steel, glass, gypsum board, and rebar can increase efficiency and allow for it to be reused. The EPA’s Deconstruction Rapid Assessment Tool is another tool that construction managers can use to assess the deconstruction of buildings and allow them to make critical decisions in allocating time and resources. Reusing materials is also a great way to mitigate procurement issues, especially as global supply chain issues continue.
Look at Sustainable Construction Materials
Since roughly 80% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist today, retrofitting buildings with advanced techniques, while ensuring new buildings use greener materials will help reduce waste issues. This may include things like improving thermal efficiency on buildings or adding living walls to improve insulation and offsetting their carbon footprint. When it comes to new buildings, understanding the environmental impact is imperative, and focusing on utilizing recycled materials further lessens their carbon footprint.
Sustainability at EDA
At EDA we are committed to continuous improvement and are always looking at ways to reduce waste. EDA’s Green Roofing Systems are a great way to utilize roof space, while reducing a building’s carbon footprint. Additionally, EDA’s new Operational Excellence Department is committed to reducing waste in several forms. Success from training our teams on the Lean Way and the Eight Wastes, will ultimately help improve EDA’s efficiency. The first steps to reducing waste are understanding that it exists and then properly identifying the issue. From there, correcting process and increasing efficiency will follow. Ultimately this will lessen EDA’s environmental impact, while also saving customers money.