Goldmine of Recyclable Metals

Gems can be Found During Demolition and Renovation Projects

By Alan Hornstein - President, Lenox Metals, LLC

For many building managers, two ultimate goals of any renovation project are to get it done on time and within budget. But with that urgency to meet those deadlines, potential recyclable materials from the renovation and demolition work sometimes gets overlooked and thrown away. These items valued for recycling within the home or building can be a “gold mine” and can help cut down on costs for the project. By having a demolition expert or certified recycler survey the building before construction begins, you can locate building materials that can be redeemed for recycling AND at the same time cut down on waste costs and trip and tipping fees at the landfill. The twofold accomplishment in savings can mean reduced potential costs for the project and for the property owner. For example, would you rather be compensated for recyclable metals from a 500-pound engine, instead of paying trip and tipping fees to take that same engine to the landfill? A property manager overseeing a construction project usually asks the person handling the demolition work whether the materials are being properly disposed, and rightfully so. But the recyclable materials that can be spotted by certified experts before work begins can also be profitable. The building manager should also ask the contractor for a discount in the project costs if the construction company plans to redeem the recycled materials.

Overlooked Materials

A pre-construction survey of recyclable materials, visible and unseen, can lead to the location and separation of recycled material. Previous construction materials such as metal roofing and siding, window frames, sheet metal, boilers, I-beams, angles and plates could all be potentially recyclable. In the electrical category, there are wire and cables, transformers, switch boxes, valves, pumps, generators, chillers, air conditioning equipment, controls, motors and armatures. And on the plumbing side, potential recycled materials could include metal pipes, valves, sheet, fixtures, faucets, heaters, sprinklers and fittings.

Proper Disposal of Hazardous Materials

Then there is the environmental side of recycling, and we’re not just talking about being environmentally conscious. Working with a certified demolition expert or recycler can determine whether certain materials are tainted with or contain toxic materials such as asbestos, PCP, radiation and potential oils that need to be cleaned or disposed of properly. Not taking this important extra step to check for these hazardous materials can lead to the illegal and improper disposal of these toxic items. The ramifications could have the building manager or property responsible for fines and other penalties. Say if an old boiler or chiller scheduled for disposal or recycling is found to have acquired radiation from decades of use. A hazardous waste expert should be brought in to have the device vacuumed and cleaned before taken in for recycling. In conclusion, a good building manager supervising a renovation or construction project not only makes sure the job is done correctly and promptly, but also keeps the project costs reasonable. Locating recyclable materials within the structure before construction begins is one way of keeping those costs down.