Preservation work can be thankless, especially when you find yourself responsible for getting rid of the debris from a job. While obviously ruined, damaged or hazardous debris deserves a trip to the dump, it can seem like a waste to trash salvageable and serviceable materials, hardware and odds and ends from a building on which you worked. Rather than contribute to the global landfill problem, consider recycling your debris instead.
The Benefits of Recycling Debris
Recycling debris saves usable material from rotting in a landfill, freeing up space for true trash. But keeping your debris out of the landfill has long-reaching consequences. By keeping your useable scraps on the market, you're keeping material costs down for everyone. This is true of both materials that are sent for actual recycling and materials that are sent to salvage yards and charity stores like Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.
Recycling debris can also save you some money during tax time if you send it to a charitable organization. By keeping receipts and deducting your donations to charity, it’s possible to lower your tax payment and keep your business running smoothly.
The Legalities of Recycling Debris
It may not always be possible to recycle debris because you might not actually be legally entitled to it. Even though you've done the work to preserve and restore a building, the materials might legally belong to the owner of the building.
If you're unsure who owns the debris, consider checking with a lawyer. Different states and regions have different laws regarding waste disposal. If it turns out that you aren't legally entitled to the trash, scrap and junk leftover from your properties, it doesn't hurt to ask the owner. The worst they can do is say no.
Finding a Place for Debris
Where do you send your scraps if it isn't the dumpster? There are a variety of places to offload your debris. Metal materials can go to the scrapyard or junkyard for instant cash-back. If you've got appliances to offload, it's worth checking to see if their manufacturers are still in business – some may offer a recycling program.
For wood, hardware, fixtures and other odds and ends, look for a salvage yard. Again, Habitat for Humanity takes donations of salvaged or serviceable building materials both for use in the properties they build for low-income families and for sale in their stores to fund their mission. Other charities and thrift stores may or may not take your debris, so call ahead to find out if they can use the items before packing them up for a drop-off.
Recycling Debris from Your Preservation Properties
Recycling debris from your preservation properties helps the planet, helps you and can help charities, too. Greening up your preservation work saves landfill space, reduces consumption and helps keep material prices lower. While scrapping or selling your debris can offer an instant cash reward, donating to charity can offer a tax deduction along with the knowledge that you're helping low income individuals find or keep safe, affordable housing or materials.
Remember to always check the legalities of recycling your debris before taking it to the trash heap, as the laws vary by jurisdiction. If you don't own the debris, get permission from the property owner. Many are happy to have what they may consider useless junk disposed of and if the job is done with little waste, all the better.