Source reduction reduces life-cycle material use, energy use and waste generation. While reuse and recycling are important methods to sustainably manage waste once waste has already been generated, source reduction prevents waste from being generated in the first place.
Demolishing existing buildings and disposing of the debris is not a resource efficient practice. Recovering used, but still-valuable C&D materials for further use is an effective way to save money while protecting natural resources.
Many building components can be recycled where markets exist. Asphalt, concrete, and rubble are often recycled into aggregate or new asphalt and concrete products. Wood can be recycled into engineered-wood products like furniture, as well as mulch, compost, and other products. Metals—including steel, copper, and brass—are also valuable commodities to recycle. Additionally, although cardboard packaging from home-building sites is not classified as a C&D material, it does make its way into the mixed C&D stream, and many markets exist for recycling this material.