Interagency Cooperation Leads to Recycling on State of Wisconsin Projects

Unique partnership shows projects can successfully recycle construction and demolition debris.

ADISON, Wis., Oct. 19 -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources issued the following news release:

Wisconsin should see less construction and demolition (C&D) debris in its landfills come the first of the year. A unique partnership among two state agencies and a nonprofit organization has shown that C&D projects throughout Wisconsin can successfully recycle. Based on these results, the Division of State Facilities will be requiring C&D waste to be recycled rather than put in landfills. This will apply to State of Wisconsin construction projects over $5 million and demolition projects advertised for bid after January 1, 2010. The efforts will reduce waste disposal costs, conserve landfill space and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The encouraging results come from a pilot project in which the nonprofit WasteCap Resource Solutions (formerly WasteCap Wisconsin) worked with the Department of Administration Division of State Facilities (DSF) under a contract with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The goal of the project, which began in 2007, was to develop methods, standards and trained staff to result in successful, measured C&D debris recycling on state projects.

Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates more than 170 million tons of C&D debris are generated each year. In Wisconsin, C&D debris-much of which is recyclable-represents a huge proportion of the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream. A 2002 DNR study found that C&D debris made up nearly 30 percent of the MSW stream, with five of the top 10 largest single components of the MSW being materials found in C&D debris, including untreated wood and shingles as the first and third largest components, respectively.

In recent years, the state of Wisconsin annually approved about $400 million to $500 million for construction, making state projects one of the largest sources of C&D debris generated in Wisconsin.

"We recognized this was a significant effort, not only because of the potential to reuse and recycle C&D debris from state projects," said Jenna Kunde, executive director of WasteCap. "We knew if we could give contractors experience with C&D reuse and recycling and make it a part of the way they do business with the state, it would have the potential to allow them to implement successful C&D recycling on projects throughout Wisconsin and beyond. It's a result we're already seeing realized."

The inspiration for the project came from Gov. Jim Doyle's 2005 Conserve Wisconsin Agenda, in which he committed to following green building standards for state buildings and set a 50 percent recycling goal for all state projects. In response, the DSF developed a Sustainable Facilities Policy and Guidelines, including C&D debris management guidelines.

At the same time, the DNR contracted with WasteCap, a nonprofit organization that provides waste reduction and recycling assistance for the benefit of business and the environment, to work with the DSF on the implementation of C&D debris recycling on state projects.

"By any measure, this effort has been a success," said Dave Haley, State Chief Architect and Deputy Director of the Bureau of Architecture and Engineering for the Department of Administration. "Every pilot project exceeded the 50 percent goal and many of the contractors that recycled on these projects are now recycling on other projects where they are not required to recycle. These projects have an average 84.8 percent recycling rate and have diverted 41,771 tons of material to date-the equivalent of removing 1,500 cars from the road for one year."

Here are the results:

* UW Madison Biochemistry Phase II (Demolition and Construction)

Recycling rate: 99.12 percent

Tons diverted to date: 25,592

* UW Parkside New Residence Hall Construction

Recycling rate: 60 percent

Tons diverted: 334

* UW Stevens Point - Balwin Hall Renovation

Recycling rate: 90.65 percent

Tons diverted: 231

* UW Superior-Rothwell Student Center Replacement (Demolition and Construction)

Recycling rate: 95.75 percent

Tons diverted to date: 1,339

* UW Whitewater Hyland Hall, Demolition Phase

Recycling rate: 97.65 percent

Tons diverted: 13,694

* UW Whitewater Hyland Hall, Construction Phase

Recycling rate: 65.65 percent

Tons diverted: 581

"We are very pleased with the example this project has set," said Ann Coakley, director of the DNR Waste and Materials Management Program. "The work the DSF and WasteCap have done, with input from DNR staff, has laid the groundwork for the development of robust C&D recycling markets in Wisconsin and trained some of the state's biggest contractors in recycling best management practices. This project has helped make Wisconsin a national leader in C&D recycling."

Additional Resources (both links exit DNR): Governor Doyle's Conserve Wisconsin agenda ( and Division 1 Construction Waste Management specifications ( more information please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, Email:- [email protected]