The Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) is the voice of the construction and demolition recycling industry in the US. With a mission to promote and defend the environmentally sound recycling of construction and demolition material through a diverse and unified voice of members committed to sustainability, the CDRA provides advocacy, information, and many other benefits to its members.
“Construction and demolition materials are recognized as one of the largest components of the solid waste stream in the US,” notes CDRA President Kevin Herb. These materials include wood, concrete, roofing shingles, gypsum drywall, and more. In past decades, the construction and demolition industry has evolved to recycle and repurpose this waste, providing substantial environmental benefits.
The CDRA estimates that in 2012 alone, the area of landfill avoided by recycling was equivalent to over 4,300 acres at a waste depth of 50 feet. “Avoidance of landfilling also provides for a greater degree of environmental protection, a smarter use of natural resources, energy savings, and a net decrease in greenhouse gas emissions,” Herb explains. “In 2012 the energy savings resulting from C&D recycling was equivalent to over 85 million barrels of oil, and the estimated greenhouse gas emissions offset corresponded to taking 4.7 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year.”
What’s more, the industry creates strong economic benefits. “Using industry survey results and the waste recycling projections, the C&D recycling industry was projected to be responsible for the direct support of 19,000 jobs in the US in 2012,” says Herb. Facility owners have invested billions of dollars in developing infrastructure for recycling. The total estimated economic output of the industry represented a contribution of over $17 billion to the US economy.
The construction and demolition recycling industry comprises companies whose recycling functions range from general to highly specialized. Material Recovery Facilities, for example, receive unsorted construction and demolition waste materials, which they sort and market by type. These companies make up the majority of the C&D recycling industry. Other recyclers specialize in specific types of material. Concrete recyclers crush waste concrete to recycle it into aggregate products. Companies specializing in asphalt shingle recycling use discarded roof shingles to produce asphalt for pavement of streets and highways. Gypsum used in drywall is another commonly recycled material.
In 1994, the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) was formed to represent the members of the growing construction and demolition recycling industry. The CDRA’s diverse membership brings together recyclers, government entities, and vendors in a mutually beneficial relationship that continually strengthens the industry.
Recycling companies benefit from interacting with one another and with government representatives, sharing information and experiences. Government representatives, specifically those in local and municipal regulatory agencies, deepen their knowledge about C&D recycling and the issues at stake in the regulatory environment. Vendors have a venue in which to promote their products and services, as well as opportunities to learn more about their customers’ needs. “All three of those are needed to make our industry work,” says Troy Lautenbach, Vice President of the CDRA.
Providing leadership, advocacy, and communication, the CDRA is a unified voice for the construction and demolition recycling industry.
The CDRA is committed to providing value for all of its members. Benefits of membership include leadership, advocacy, and communications. “If we’re going to grow our membership, we need to be focused on providing value,” says Herb.
At its annual C&D World conference and throughout the year, the CDRA provides a venue for members to share knowledge and work together to develop solutions to common issues. “Our members are the experts in this industry,” says Lautenbach. Because the C&D industry is highly localized, the nature of the industry and the Association is non-competitive, fostering a culture of mutual growth and shared success.
The Association also provides its members with resources as they navigate complex local and federal regulations, including a safety manual for recycling facilities and a comprehensive listing of each state’s rules and regulations that affect recyclers.
The CDRA also offers technical information on various functions of C&D recycling. “We receive phone calls and emails from members needing information, and we can direct them to the experts to help them with their specific issue,” says William Turley, Executive Director of the CDRA.
The CDRA is committed to advocating for the interests of its members at the local and national levels. “It’s the only voice that’s dedicated to our industry,” says Lautenbach. The CDRA engages with the EPA, OSHA, and other federal agencies, as well as local regulatory agencies, and provides its members with resources for engaging directly with regulators. The CDRA has even produced a set of guidelines for members to invite local officials to tour their facilities.
The Association’s regulatory accomplishments include securing a commitment from the US EPA to relax proposed rules on lead-based paint that would negatively impact the industry, and passing legislation at the state level that promotes the use of recycled aggregates. Through its advocacy efforts, the CDRA works with legislators and regulators to ensure that rules and regulations are fair to recyclers.
Looking to the future, the CDRA anticipates continued growth, both in its membership and in the C&D recycling industry itself. The Association has developed a strategic plan to guide this growth and continue providing outstanding value to its members. The Strategic Plan outlines the CDRA’s six core focus areas, including:
• Legislative and Regulatory Engagement
• Revenue/Resource Development
• Technical Assistance and Communication
As technological advances make the recycling process more efficient, the C&D recycling industry will continue to evolve and expand. “The future is energy,” says Herb. “There’s a big push on renewable energy. What we’re working on is to take residual waste and convert it into a liquid fuel product – specifically diesel fuel. That technology is here today, and there are a lot of projects going on right now.”
“Landfills as we know them today will be a different breed 20 years from now. We’ve seen it in Europe, and we’re going to see it here.”