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Companies Give New Life to Discarded Bldg Materials

The waste from construction and demolition debris is twice the amount of municipal waste, and companies like Stardust Building Supplies, Harvest Eco-Salvage and Freecycle Network makes it easier for people to access reused materials. Credit: Megan Marples, Cronkite News

By Chelsea Hofmann for Cronkite News

Doorknobs overflow rows of boxes, piles of miscellaneous wood and squares of carpet lay neatly on the floor. Light fixtures hang from various shelves – all of it discarded construction and demolition waste.

A 2015 Environmental Protection Agency fact sheet on construction and demolition waste found more than 545 million tons of debris ended up in landfills every year, even though 75 percent of those materials had the potential for reuse.

Companies like the nonprofit Stardust Building Supplies are working to stop waste from ending up in landfills by providing deconstruction services and selling discounted building materials at two warehouses in Mesa and Glendale.

Chelsea Pickett, Stardust’s business development manager, said many people don’t realize that construction and demolition debris accounts for twice as much as municipal waste in the U.S.

The Gifts In Kind program at Stardust redistributes essential toiletry and household items from retailers that would have otherwise been thrown away to other nonprofit organizations in the community.

The service not only reduces waste, she said, it also saves homeowners and businesses money.

Harvest Eco-Salvage, which has operated in Scottsdale for 16 years, specifically tackles larger deconstruction projects, such as entire houses, and donates reusable materials to other nonprofits, including Stardust and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona’s ReStores, which sells homebuilding and improvement materials.

Linda Eales, founder and executive director of Harvest Eco-Salvage, said the unusable materials also are recycled. For example, the nonprofit takes concrete to crushing plants to be turned into gravel.

Over time, Eales said, houses fall out of fashion, and that can be reflected in property values. So, people will get rid of perfectly good materials to update their homes. That’s where Harvest Eco-Salvage comes in.

Pickett said Stardust has grown over the years from three people and one truck to two locations with over 60,000 combined square feet of warehouse space. This growth comes at a time when the population of metro Phoenix also is on the rise.

Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., and construction is increasing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean reused materials are ending up in new construction.

Read more at Cronkite News.

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