Construction & 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

Here are some planning tips to consider before any demolition or renovation work begins:

  1. List all materials that may need recycling or disposal.
  2. Ensure a hazardous materials survey is completed by a qualified professional.
  3. For renovation projects, look for opportunities to avoid complete replacement. Updates such as resurfacing with new paint or repairing in-place can produce similar outcomes. 
  4. Identify salvage opportunities before the materials are removed. Ask a salvage contractor or reuse store to help you figure out which materials can be reused.
  5. Identify opportunities to recycle materials that are not reusable. Find facilities on Metro Vancouver Recycles that accept the materials so they can be moved off site quickly following demolition.
  6. Find facilities that take your non-hazardous leftover job-site materials for disposal. Landfills accept a variety of materials but some are prohibited and restricted at local disposal facilities. Check with the facility before delivering your residuals.
  • Examples of Reusable and Recyclable Materials

    Material TypeExamplesReuse Recycling
    AppliancesFridges, stoves, washers, dryers    
    ​Architectural detailsColumns, fireplace mantels, mouldings​    
    ​Bricks/ blocksClay bricks, concrete precast, aerated blocks, stones block    
    CarpetCarpet, areas rugs, carpet underlap                 
    Concrete/ Asphalt/ AggregatesStructural concrete, cinder blocks, asphalt pavement, bricks, washout from mixer trucks
    Crush on site and use as fill material  
    DrywallNew gypsum wallboard off cuts
    Asbestos-free used gypsum wallboard
    Electrical EquipmentCircuit breakers, breaker boxes, switches    
    Finished goodsDoors, windows, cabinets, counter tops    
    Gates and RailingsSecurity gates, decorative gates, hand rails    
    GlassWindows, structural glass, mirrors    
    Heating/ CoolingHVAC ducts, furnaces, boilers, AC units    
    LightingLight fixtures, tracks    
    MetalsPiping, aluminum siding, banding, wire, cable, rebar, window frames, metal cabinets and shelves    
    WoodForming lumber, dimensional lumber, painted wood, composite, pallets, flooring    
    PaperCardboard from packaging, office paper, newspaper                
    PlasticsEmpty pails and containers, plastic film, pipes    
    PlumbingPlumbing fixtures, Sinks, facets, tubs, shower stalls                 
    Land clearing debrisStumps, branches, yard waste  
    Can be chipped on site and used as mulch
    Existing vegetationShrubs, small trees, plants and sod  

Demolition Versus Deconstruction

After the removal of hazardous materials and the salvage of reusable items, the typical demolition uses heavy machinery to knock down a building, completely destroying it during the process. What remains is collected and likely hauled to a landfill.

With deconstruction, buildings are systematically taken apart, typically by hand. This method keeps building materials intact and separated, making them easier to reuse and recycle. Experience in Metro Vancouver and other regions is that deconstruction can keep at least 80% of building materials out of the landfill.

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:

Try the Residential Demolition Waste Reduction Calculator

Construction & demolition permitting requirements for other municipalities:



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