Q: How does recycling apply to home construction and renovation?
A: Home building and remodeling involve a lot of materials that can end up in the recycling/reuse stream rather than in a landfill. Most common building materials—wood, plastic, steel, brick, drywall, concrete—can be recycled or reclaimed for future use, so product labels that read "100 percent recyclable" are largely meaningless. The potential is there, but unless there's a mandated or profitable recycling program in place, few builders or homeowners bother taking that step.
If you have a building or remodeling project in the works, ask your contractor or local building official how to recycle old or leftover materials. And where possible, specify new products that feature at least 25 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Some materials, such as composite decking, often contain recycled plastic resins and can be recycled again. The same potential exists for old copper or brass pipe, electrical wiring, and aluminum or vinyl siding.