I recently received a call from my Mum. It started, "Hi Brad, it's your Mum here." She always begins a call like that just in case I've forgotten who she is.
"What are you doing next Saturday?" she continued, "I need some help."
How could I respond to a request like that? I offered to help. She was adding a new patio to the side of the house, which involved leveling out an area of roughly three metres squared. She and my father had already done much of the hard work of excavating and had created a giant pile of rocks, sand, soil and gravel.
They needed help getting the pile from the back of the house, down the drive way and into a skip bin.
Asking them whether or not they had booked the skip bin yet, I urged Mum to book a bin from a company that recycles.
"There's no plastic, glass or metal in the rubble, so I don't think you can recycle any of it," Mum replied.
Mum was under a common misconception that recycling from a home is limited to the things that go into the recycling bin provided by the local council - glass, plastic, aluminium containers and paper.
As it happens, construction and demolition (C&D) waste is highly recyclable.
C&D waste is any of the material that is generated from the building or destruction of homes and buildings. It includes excavated sand and rock, bricks, concrete, timber frames, window and doorframes, pipes, electrical wiring, and fixtures like kitchen sinks and baths.
"Mum, you're in luck," I said. "I happen to know a little something about recycling."
Planet Ark works with Bingo Bins, a Sydney-based waste management company that sends every skip bin to a recycling facility. I called them after reviewing the options on their website and booked a bin for the following Saturday. On the day, I helped move the entire pile of bricks, rocks, soil and sand down the (long and steep) driveway and into the awaiting skip bin. You can probably see the sweat in the photo.
At the end of the job the bin was picked up and taken to a Bingo Recycling centre in St Peters where it was put though a series of sorting processes designed to separate out the different materials.
At the end of four hours we had moved FOUR TONNES of material. As it was all relatively clean and consistent material, almost 100% of it could be recycled.
Of the four tonnes
- The soil will be used as turf underlay
- The bricks and rocks will be crushed and used as a drainage medium and behind retaining walls and the
- The sand will be used as pipe bedding, for backfilling and under concrete slabs.
Four tonnes of recycling in four hours. Not a bad effort.
For More Information
If you're renovating or spring or autumn cleaning, remember that most construction waste can be recycled.
Bingo Bins, which operates in Sydney, guarantees that all skip bins go through a recycling station. Residents outside of Sydney can check out RecyclingNearYou to find a recycler near you.
Article written by Brad Gray, Head of Campaigns, Planet Ark