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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Benefits of Managing Debris

Recycling and reuse of buildings and materials can yield significant economic and environmental benefits. Reuse promotes historic preservation, conserves both energy and resources, and contributes to the local economy. Building-related activities (demolition, remodeling and tenant improvement, new construction and land clearing) generate construction, remodeling and demolition (CR&D) waste. Slightly more than half of the CR&D material generated in Portland is disposed in the landfill. This means that more than 25 percent of Portland's landfill space is construction and demolition debris. Half of this amount could have been reused or recycled.

Economic Benefits

Financial Planning

Marketing Opportunity for Companies

  • Experience in waste prevention and recycling can be an essential marketing tool to the growing number of potential clients interested in participating in LEED and other green building programs.

Cost Savings for Builders

  • Donating materials for reuse often does not cost a contractor anything and recycling fees are generally lower than disposal fees. 

  • Donating materials to nonprofits that specialize in salvaged items may result in tax deductions.

  • Reusing materials on site can have benefits that offset possible associated costs (i.e., de-nailing, grinding, etc.), when compared to otherwise disposing of the waste material and purchasing new material.

  • Some waste materials have well-developed markets for cardboard, metal, reusable lumber and architectural salvage. As a result, processors may pay for these materials.

Creating Jobs in our Region

According to the Portland Recycles! Plan

  • Recycling provides a large number of jobs that generally pay above the national average wage. 

  • Sending 10,000 tons of waste to the landfill supports six jobs, while recycling the same amount supports 36 jobs.

  • New business and product opportunities associated with recycled materials add to the growth of the sustainable industries sector of our local economy.

Environmental Benefits

Reducing Energy Use and Contribution to Climate Change

  • Keeping waste material out of the landfill reduces greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

  • Diverting materials from the landfill puts less pressure on the need to extract and process raw materials for building or other uses, thereby saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

  • Processing waste material into new products (i.e., recycling) uses significantly less energy than processing raw materials into new products.

Preserving Embodied Energy

  • Reusing buildings or materials helps preserve embodied energy — the energy associated with the materials of a building throughout its life — this includes energy consumed to extract raw materials; process the materials; transport the materials to a job site; and ultimately dispose of the materials.