Recycled Building Materials

Trash Talk

editorial@sierrastarNovember 5, 2013 

Did you hear??? There is a new gig in town — using recycled products for your remodeling projects. While looking at some advertisements for pavers made of recycled products, I felt compelled to explore what other options we may have for using recycled materials in our home remodels.

Wood flooring, glass tiles, and carpets can all be made from recycled materials. The carpet industry has been embracing recycled materials for some time. Manufacturers are reportedly moving from recycled soda bottles to products made with recycled tires. The term PET is an acronym for Polyethylene Terephthalate. In addition to reducing plastic being sent to the landfill, recycled PET carpet has the same softness and endurance qualities of virgin fibers (typically polyester, nylon, and olefin), according to the industry. Your local carpet store will let you know which carpets are made with 100% post-consumer material fibers. The question is, would you rather have carpet made from nonrenewable raw materials or carpet made from landfill-reducing recycled materials?

The website for Azrek.com describes pavers made from 95% recycled materials. A study quoted on their website describes the durability of these pavers; they hold up well during freeze and thaw cycles in Canada. These pavers are about one-third the weight of concrete pavers and because of their light weight, they have been used over worn decking. They are also sturdy enough for a driveway.

They just keep coming up with innovative ideas and new materials for countertop construction. There is quite a range of countertop products made from recycled products. The latest entry on the market is especially interesting; it's a countertop made from corn. Multiple firms are using corn to make a resin that holds other post-consumer products together. For example, the RecycleTop by KlipTech is made from recycled paper bound with a resin made with corn and cashews. The paper is sealed into the resin, making for a surface that won't absorb water.

Vetrazzo is a company specializing in glass countertops. Their product is composed of 85% Recycled Glass and 15% modified Portland White Cement. A Vetrazzo slab is the result of commingled recycling. Patterns and colors may vary based on the content and source of the recycled materials. This glass slab is durable and promoted as extremely resistant to surface damage.

As you can see, there are many options (and more than are listed here) for your future remodeling or new constructions projects. Also, when you do remodel, remember to ask your contractor how the demolition materials will be handled. If we all rethink how we can personally reduce, reuse, and recycle, we make a positive contribution to our environment, and ultimately our world.

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