Success of the Cook County Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance is Receiving National Attention

Laura Oakleaf

The November issue of the New York Times' Chicago Life magazine features the contributions of Cook County's Demolition Debris Diversion Ordinance to the overall improvements in recycling efforts in Chicago and Cook County.

"When it comes to recycling construction and demolition debris, the picture is more optimistic. When you drive down a street and see a building being torn down, have you ever wondered what happens to that stuff—of which there is a lot? According to Bryant Williams, “In 2013, there were 496,000 tons of demolition and construction debris. This includes wood, concrete, asphalt, rubber membrane from roofs, glass, aluminum siding, carpeting (which is tough to recycle), and bricks.”

Traditionally, forty percent of the material went to landfills. In 2012, though, the Cook County Board passed an ordinance requiring more recycling of construction and demolition materials in the county. According to Williams, “The ordinance was driven by President Toni Preckwinkle and was intended to face the issue that Cook County is running out of space for landfills.” The ordinance sets the goal of diverting at least 70 percent of construction and demolition debris into reuse. A surprising amount of this stuff can be repurposed. Williams said, “People reuse lumber for furniture. Metals have high value. Bricks can be reused. Bricks made now have hollow cores, but the traditional Chicago bricks are solid, and there’s a big market for them.” Other goodies that can be reused include light fixtures and kitchen cabinets—if they’re in good condition. Builders can also reuse floor joists and lumber for new projects. Williams said, “We’re hitting about 88 percent of waste reuse now in suburban Cook County.” Chicago Life, November 2014

Read the whole article here: Chicago Life Article