Construction and Demolition Waste

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

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:

  1. List all the materials that will be onsite before the demolition begins.
  2. Ensure a hazardous materials survey is completed by a qualified person prior to the start of any renovation or demolition work.
  3. 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.
  4. Find facilities on Metro Vancouver Recycles that accept the materials so they can be moved off site quickly following demolition.
  5. 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 TypeExamplesReuse or Recycling
AppliancesFridges, stoves, washers, dryersReuse or recycle
​Architectural detailsColumns, fireplace mantels, mouldings​Reuse or recycle​
​Bricks/ blocksClay bricks, concrete precast, aerated blocks, stones blockReuse or recycle​
CarpetCarpet, areas rugs, carpet underlapRecycle
Concrete/ Asphalt/ AggregatesStructural concrete, cinder blocks, asphalt pavement, bricks, washout from mixer trucksCrush on site and use as fill material or recycle
DrywallNew gypsum wallboard off cuts
Asbestos-free used gypsum wallboard
Recycle
ElectricalCircuit breakers, breaker boxes, switchesReuse or recycle
Finished goodsDoors, windows, cabinets, counter topsReuse or recycle
Gates/ RailingsSecurity gates, decorative gates, hand railsReuse or recycle
GlassWindows, structural glass, mirrorsRecycle
Heating/ CoolingHVAC ducts, furnaces, boilers, AC unitsReuse or recycle
LightingLight fixtures, tracksReuse or recycle
MetalsPiping, aluminum siding, banding, wire, cable, rebar, window frames, metal cabinets and shelvesRecycle
WoodForming lumber, dimensional lumber, painted wood, composite, pallets, flooringReuse or recycle
PaperCardboard from packaging, office paper, newspaperRecycle
PlasticsEmpty pails and containers, plastic film, pipesRecycle
PlumbingPlumbing fixtures, Sinks, facets, tubs, shower stallsReuse or recycle
Land clearing debrisStumps, branches, yard wasteCan be chipped on site and used as mulch or recycled
Existing vegetationShrubs, small trees, plants and sodReplant 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:

Resources