We've got you covered with all the knowledge you need to get started on reducing, reusing and recycling when renovating.
Property renovation and demolition projects create significant amounts of waste, and anyone who has completed one before will tell you – it’s easy to fill a skip with accumulated bits, bobs and rubbish. However, in order to reduce the environmental impact your renovation has; and ideally to lower the cost of it; you can recycle several building materials along the way. Knowing what can be reused and recycled and knowing how can have a hugely positive impact on your renovation… and we’ve got you covered with all the knowledge you need to get started.
Wood, metals and hard plastics are generally all reusable and recyclable providing they’re in a large enough amount. Plastics will need to melted down and wood usually refinished, but lots can be done. In reusing any of these materials however, be mindful of any potential chemical treatments present on them. These may impact on their usefulness and could result in rapid deterioration when reused. In some cases, chemical treatments may require specific disposal so it may be easier to waste them than to recycle – but check first!
The installation of a new roof where one already exists can produce a lot of waste, and although not all of it can reused, some materials can be. Paper-based sheathing can be recycled but regular sheathing will require disposal. Shingling can be upcycled into smaller projects such as roofing sheds, dog houses or chicken coops) and recycled asphalt shingles can even be resold for other building projects.
Slate, a natural stone often used in roofing, can last for hundreds of years and can be recycled for tile flooring in kitchens, bathrooms or other appropriate spaces. Slate is a popular material and providing it is not in bad condition should never be disposed of without first checking for reuse options.
Most household appliances have a reasonable service life of 10 to 20 years – although a warranty will often only cover 2 of 3 of these. Toward the end of an appliance’s serviceable life, they may experience breakdowns and require repair or maintenance, so there is a tendency amongst many to simply dispose of them and purchase anew before they reach their true end of life.
However, there is an appetite for used but still functioning appliances. Anything that is destined for disposal during a home renovation may be able to be donated to charity shops or a charitable organisation, so check before you throw anything away. There are good homes in need of appliances out there! Even if an appliance does not work in whole, its parts that may be of value individually, or even just the materials (usually metal) within.
Millwork is almost always reusable, recyclable or upcyclable – but before reusing any painted millwork, it should be tested for old lead-based paint (for safety purposes). If it does test positive for lead-based paint, there are specific paint licensed contractors that handle and dispose of the material, but if it’s negative, it’s good to go!
Lots of millwork such as wooden doors can be reused immediately in whole, but some types of millwork will require disassemble or cutting down to form something new. Some local authorities have recycling plants that can safely and efficiently recycle millwork by specialist staff.
Light fixtures are often reused elsewhere in the home or sold during renovations, but in some cases can be taken apart for reuse as new items. However, before reuse, all light fixtures should be thoroughly visually inspected to ensure that they are safe for use. Anything cracked, broken or with any exposed wiring should be disposed of.
Many charity shops and charitable organisations will take donations of light fixtures but often not used bulbs. Instead, light bulbs (if they work, of course) should be kept and reused in the home.
Most plumbing fixtures are designed to last for many years, and should do if used correctly. Old and used plumbing fixtures that are, or indeed just look, antique, are highly desirable for resale so need not be sent to scrap. Older toilets are not quite as popular as sinks or bathtubs, but some local authorities will take them in recycling centres. If not, why not clean it out and plant flowers in to make a feature in the garden?
As with many other interior fixtures, any plumbing fixtures destined for reuse or resale should be checked for the presence of lead or lead paint, for safety purposes.
If tiles or flooring materials are in good condition, they can often be reused or resold fairly easily. Damaged wood should be removed and recycled through an appropriate recycling centre, and laminate and bamboo are often easily recycled too. Cracked or broken tiles can be reused for the creation of mosaics, other art pieces, or striking tiled pathways outside of the home.
Carpet, being porous, usually isn’t easily recycled or reused, but clean workable pieces can be repurposed into rugs, mats or even insulation to help keep your new renovation warm through inclement weather.
Copper is always in demand because it's an extremely useful and versatile material. Easily recycled, copper maintains its value fantastically – with old copper often worth as much as 95% that of the material newly ored!
Copper can be sold or donated to specific copper processing centres and in these facilities it is usually repurposed into something new and sold on from there.
Often considered large and too wieldy to do much with, countertops are actually fully recyclable and if too big, can be broken down and made into new items such as tiles. Countertops, full or in pieces, are also often a surprisingly well-received donation to charity shops or charitable organisations and so can be given away if not kept for reuse in the renovation project.
Most contractors and local authorities will be able to advise on the recycling and reuse opportunities in any renovation project, so don’t be afraid to ask and to get creative!
We’ve got you covered with all the knowledge you need to get started on your next home renovation or improvement project. If you’re ready to start discussing your ideas, get in touch today for a chat with one of our renovation specialists.
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