By Stephanie Johnston
Despite - or perhaps because of - the lingering effects of the recession, garbage is increasingly valuable.
Recycling of metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, rubber, and electronics is up 40% since 2009, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc., with a corresponding impact on employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says scrap recycling added 10,000 jobs between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of this year, bringing the total number of related jobs to 113,000.
Last year, 130 million metric tons worth $77 billion were manufactured into specification-grade commodities. These materials included:
Inspired by such growth, the National Demolition Association inaugurated the Environmental Excellence Awards this year. The following are two of the program's 11 recipients. The organization's 1,000 members include civil engineering firms, and recycling, landfill, and salvage operations.
The lifespan of a landfill in Fresno, Calif., has been extended by 30 years by excavating, separating, and screening more than 2.5 million cubic yards of waste and reusing millions of tons of reclaimed soil for ongoing operations. Contractor: Kroeker Inc. (See image below.)
When it opened in 1997 in the nation's busiest containerport, the Los Angeles Export Terminal was a marvel of modern commerce. Built to quickly unload coal arriving by rail into ships bound for Asia, the facility processed up to six 12,000-ton trains a day. But when customers found sources closer to home or began mining their own coal, 120 acres had to be repurposed. (See image below.)
Known for their environmental sensitivity, Port of Los Angeles managers approached the process of dismantling buildings and equipment at one of 270 berths similarly. Working with contractor Standard Industries, virtually all - 98.78% - material was recycled or reused: