One person?s trash is another person?s...home?

The best homes built and remodeled nowadays are very likely to include a lot of garbage. Or rather, recycled waste.

February 17, 2000

The best homes built and remodeled nowadays are very likely to include a lot of garbage.

Or rather, recycled waste.

The increasing environmental awareness of the American home builder is reflected in the homes being built. According to the North American Insulation Manufacturer’s Association (NAIMA), the amount of pre- and post-consumer glass and blast furnace slag recycled into thermal and acoustical insulation over the past six years now exceeds 12 billion pounds. Homes are being made from recycled timber, recycled windows and even recycled straw.

"In addition to utilizing billions of pounds of recycled waste, fiber glass and slag wool insulation products help make buildings and industry more energy efficient, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool homes," says Kenneth D. Mentzer, executive vice president of NAIMA. "This, in turn, decreases the amount of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere." Recycled materials are commonly found in insulation. Some manufacturers even use recycled newspaper, treated for fire- and insect-repellenancy, to insulate attics and walls.

Recycled rubber is finding its way into slate roofing tiles, and glass from aging windows can be removed when the frame begins to wear and installed into new products. Reworked glass windows are ideal for maintaining the asthetic of a historic home.

Recycled straw, a waste product from farming, is also finding its way into -"strawboard." Strawboard consists of straw fibers treated and compressed into a particle board-style building product. Normally this straw waste is simply burnt by farmers, releasing smoke into the atmosphere.

Timber, especially timber in areas where de- or re-forestation is making certain types of wood species difficult to obtain, can also be re-used. Timbers still in good condition are taken to reworking centers, where it is de-nailed, re-sawn and dressed. Recycled timbers can also be profiled or tongue and grooved according to specification.

"The significant use of recycled materials reflects the industry’s long-standing commitment to environmental preservation," says Mentzer.

Recycling facts:

  • Recycling paper uses 60 percent less energy than manufacturing paper from virgin timber.
  • In most cases, making products from recycled materials creates less air pollution and water pollution than making products from virgin materials.
  • The recycling process creates far more jobs than landfills or incinerators, and recycling can frequently be the least expensive waste management method for cities and towns.
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