Know Your Waste Stream

An important first step in the development phase of a construction and demolition (C&D) diversion ordinance is identifying the types and quantities of projects in your area that generate C&D material, and how that material is currently being managed.

Asking these questions in the beginning of the ordinance process will allow you to focus your ordinance on those types of projects that generate the most C&D material, and that are typically landfilled, instead of being diverted. Targeting these projects should help you to achieve a higher level of C&D diversion. The following questions are a good starting point in discovering this valuable planning information.

Demolition or Construction?

Is most of the waste generated from demolition projects, or is it also being generated from construction projects? Is the waste generated from these projects typically diverted, or being disposed in a landfill?

Note: there is usually more C&D debris and inert debris generated from demolition projects than construction projects of similar square footage or cost, although it is often easier to divert demolition debris if it consists mostly of asphalt/concrete.

Project Types

What types of C& D projects (and what percentage of each) are occurring in your area: 1) large commercial/industrial buildings, 2) new home construction (including multifamily complexes), or 3) small-scale remodels? Renovation projects may generate less waste than a demolition project, but more than new construction?

Knowing what types of C&D projects are predominant in your jurisdiction will also help you determine which projects you would want to target in your ordinance and enable you to determine the adequacy of your existing infrastructure for handling the C&D debris generated from those projects.

Most Permitted Projects

What kinds of projects (e.g., based on square footage, dollar value, or types of waste material generated) are most frequently permitted in your jurisdiction?

Small Project Diversion

In some jurisdictions, most of the C&D waste is related to small residential projects. If that is the case, while each individual project may be small, the cumulative impact on the jurisdiction’s total annual disposal rate may be significant if efforts are not made to encourage or require diversion of this material. For other jurisdictions, small projects like home remodels produce less significant tonnage when compared to larger building construction and demolition projects, but they are still included in the jurisdiction’s overall C&D diversion program.

Other jurisdictions have opted not to target small generators in their C&D diversion ordinances, but have instead encouraged them to divert their C&D waste material by:

  • Providing them with a list of C&D recyclers in the area.
  • Providing educational materials on C&D diversion.
  • Requesting they divert at least 50 percent of their C&D materials.
  • Offering free pickup of these materials.

The cities of San Jose and Alameda both have C&D diversion ordinances that are good examples of how a jurisdiction could address C&D waste from small generators. These cities’ C&D diversion ordinances are available on CalRecycle’s C&D Ordinances Web page.

C&D Diversion Guide Home

For more information contact: Local Assistance & Market Development,