Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced the County has received national recognition for its progressive recycling policy which has kept tons of demolition debris out of landfills and created jobs through the reuse and resale of building material.
The County was presented with the Walnut Gavel award for its leading-edge Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance during the national conference of the Building Material Reuse Association in Seattle. The ordinance requires contractors in suburban and unincorporated Cook County to recycle 70 percent of their debris for most demolition projects and divert 5 percent from residential waste for reuse.
“Cook County is committed to reducing waste,” President Preckwinkle said. “We thank the Building Materials Reuse Association for this recognition and for its continued advocacy of environmentally sustainable practices. I’m proud that Cook County can serve as a model of sustainability for other communities and local governments.”
As a result of the ordinance, contractors have been able to recover valuable lumber for use in new houses, as well as recycle kitchen and bathroom fixtures for reuse or resale.
“Reusing materials from residential structures preserves more of their value and lessens the environmental impacts from the demolition or renovation process as well as from manufacturing new products,” said Deborah Stone, director of the County’s Department of Environmental Control.
Since the ordinance was passed in November 2012, contractors have exceeded the ordinance’s requirements, recycling 79% of materials overall, and recovering 11% of required materials for reuse.
“We are delighted to recognize Cook County as the first government in the Midwest to require the environmentally sustainable practice of building material reuse as a way of doing business,” said Jim Schulman, member of the BMRA Board of Directors and Founder of Community Forklift in Edmonston, Maryland.