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What We're Doing

Moving Waste Prevention Forward

The National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) Construction, Renovation, and Demolition (CRD) working group is made up of professionals and government representatives across Canada’s construction sector and beyond. Engaging collaboratively, the CRD working group identifies opportunities to advance waste prevention and the circular economy, an alternative to the traditional linear economy of take, make, waste. A circular economy ensures resources are in use for as long as possible.

Avoiding Wood Waste

Wood waste is one of the most abundant types of CRD waste ending up in Canadian landfills. Yet, many kinds of wasted wood hold significant value and can be upcycled for new uses.

Policy changes, advances in industry practices, and diversion at end-of-life are required to ensure valuable wood doesn’t end up in landfills. For example, clean wood, which is wood untreated by chemicals, paint, or other coatings, can often be used in new buildings or for new products such as furniture. Engineered wood, including particleboard, manufactured plywood, and medium-density fibreboard, also have markets for reuse. Painted and treated wood or engineered wood waste can be used for alternative fuel applications further down the waste hierarchy.


Deconstruction

Deconstruction Over Demolition

Deconstruction is an innovative approach being used to greatly reduce waste. Following the removal of hazardous materials and the salvage of certain materials, the typical demolition process uses heavy machinery to knock down a building, destroying it during the process. What remains is collected and typically hauled to the landfill. A growing trend replaces demolition with deconstruction in which buildings are systematically taken apart, so materials are kept intact and separated, making them easier to reuse and recycle.

Experience indicates that deconstruction can divert at least 80 percent of a building’s materials away from the landfill. The CRD working group is actively raising awareness about the opportunities of deconstruction and promoting conditions that enable further adoption of this approach across Canada.

CONSISTENCY BUILDS CONFIDENCE

Solving the Asphalt Problem

Asphalt is another leading source of CRD waste across Canada. Used asphalt from roads and roofing is treated differently across the country. In some jurisdictions, asphalt is reused as aggregate, while in others it is reprocessed into new asphalt. One of the challenges of reprocessing asphalt is the lack of standardization in how recycled asphalt is made and applied. There is a lack of confidence in how it will perform on new roads, and for this reason, many municipalities restrict the use of recycled asphalt. This results in an unnecessary reliance on more virgin aggregate and bitumen materials.


Building Standards for Recycled Asphalt

The NZWC is working with industry to develop a Recycled Asphalt Paving (RAP) certification program that would provide municipalities with greater confidence in the performance of recycled asphalt through its entire life cycle. Certification would also provide industry producers with consistent standards and ultimately increase the use of recycled asphalt products.