Construction & Demolition Waste
Material from the construction, demolition and renovation of buildings makes up one-third of our region’s waste.
Metro Vancouver aims to increase the recycling rate of the construction, renovation and demolition industry to 80% by diverting recyclable materials, such as wood from disposal.
Construction waste is clean and easy to sort at each stage of construction. For example, most wood waste is produced during framing and cardboard packaging is generated when interior finishes and appliances are installed.
With planning, new construction projects in the region have been able to reuse or recycle more than 75% of their potential waste materials, saving builders money on disposal costs and keeping usable materials out of the landfill.
Renovation & Demolition Waste
Planning tips before demolition begins:
- List all the materials that will be onsite before the demolition begins.
- Ensure a hazardous materials survey is completed by a qualified person prior to the start of any renovation or demolition work.
- Review the materials list and consider whether all the items really need to be replaced; updates like resurfacing with new paint or repairing in-place can produce similar outcomes as complete replacement. Identify salvage and recycling opportunities before the materials are removed.
- Find facilities on
Metro Vancouver Recycles that accept the materials so they can be moved off site quickly following demolition.
- Ask a salvage contractor or reuse store to help you figure out which materials can be reused and recycled.
Examples of Reusable and Recyclable Materials
Demolition Versus Deconstruction
|Material Type||Examples||Reuse or Recycling|
|Appliances||Fridges, stoves, washers, dryers||Reuse or recycle|
|Architectural details||Columns, fireplace mantels, mouldings||Reuse or recycle|
|Bricks/ blocks||Clay bricks, concrete precast, aerated blocks, stones block||Reuse or recycle|
|Carpet||Carpet, areas rugs, carpet underlap||Recycle|
|Concrete/ Asphalt/ Aggregates||Structural concrete, cinder blocks, asphalt pavement, bricks, washout from mixer trucks||Crush on site and use as fill material or recycle|
|Drywall||New gypsum wallboard off cuts|
Asbestos-free used gypsum wallboard
|Electrical||Circuit breakers, breaker boxes, switches||Reuse or recycle|
|Finished goods||Doors, windows, cabinets, counter tops||Reuse or recycle|
|Gates/ Railings||Security gates, decorative gates, hand rails||Reuse or recycle|
|Glass||Windows, structural glass, mirrors||Recycle|
|Heating/ Cooling||HVAC ducts, furnaces, boilers, AC units||Reuse or recycle|
|Lighting||Light fixtures, tracks||Reuse or recycle|
|Metals||Piping, aluminum siding, banding, wire, cable, rebar, window frames, metal cabinets and shelves||Recycle|
|Wood||Forming lumber, dimensional lumber, painted wood, composite, pallets, flooring||Reuse or recycle|
|Paper||Cardboard from packaging, office paper, newspaper||Recycle|
|Plastics||Empty pails and containers, plastic film, pipes||Recycle|
|Plumbing||Plumbing fixtures, Sinks, facets, tubs, shower stalls||Reuse or recycle|
|Land clearing debris||Stumps, branches, yard waste||Can be chipped on site and used as mulch or recycled|
|Existing vegetation||Shrubs, small trees, plants and sod||Replant on another site or on the same site|
Deconstruction is a more labour-intensive process than demolition. After the removal of hazardous materials and the salvage of certain materials, the typical demolition process uses heavy machinery to knock down a building, completely destroying it during the process. What remains is collected and likely hauled to landfill.
With deconstruction, buildings are systematically taken apart so building materials are kept intact and separated, making them easier to reuse and recycle. Experience in Metro Vancouver and other regions is that at least 80% of materials can be kept out of the landfill with deconstruction.
Municipal Demolition Bylaws and Permits
Metro Vancouver municipalities each have their own set of bylaws and procedures that govern construction and demolition activities, including salvage and recycling requirements in some municipalities. See below for the permit application process and recycling requirements for your area.
Municipalities with demolition recycling requirements:
Construction & demolition permitting requirements for other municipalities: