Waste Management

The US generated about 300 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2018. How much construction & demolition waste did it generate in that year?


Please make a selection

Correct Answer
600 million tons

And here's something for you to take back

So, the country generated twice the amount of construction & demolition waste as municipal solid waste. This ratio could quite possibly hold good for the rest of world too.

And yet, we rarely hear about this category of waste.

Now, one may say that these two types of wastes are not comparable. It might even be argued that municipal solid waste carries a lot more value than construction or demolition waste.

But if one thinks hard, on balance, construction or demolition waste could comprise significant value.

Consider the doors and windows being dismantled. Many of them can perhaps be reused with a bit of touch-up, and many others can be recycled after some processing. Some others could be combined with other materials to form composites and be reborn.

Similar is the case with metal products (beams, other metallic structures that are part of a building), a large portion of which can be recycled.

The bricks and concrete, which form the dominant portion of most construction or demolition waste, do possess challenge in terms of recycling - let alone upcycling - but the world is coming up with better avenues to make use of these, see here and here.

If you wish to know the basics of construction & demolition waste and its management, read this primer on C&D waste from EPA.