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Different Roads to the Same Destination?

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Sustainable Materials Management and Circular Economy are both frameworks for considering the way we interact with the world's resources. Different organizations and institutions across the world have adopted one philosophy

Sustainable Materials Management and Circular Economy are both frameworks for considering the way we interact with the world's resources. Different organizations and institutions across the world have adopted one philosophy or the other. To some, there seems to be little overlap of the two, and to others, they are perceived as being interchangeable. This paper evaluates Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) and Circular Economy (CE) individually and in comparison to see how truly different these frameworks are from one another. This comparison is then extended into a theoretical walk-through of an SMM treatment of concrete pavement in contrast with a CE treatment. With concrete being a ubiquitous in the world's buildings and roads, as well as being a major constituent of Construction & Demolition waste generated, its analysis is applicable to a significant portion of the world's material flow. The ultimate test of differentiation between SMM and CE would ask: 1) If SMM principles guided action, would the outcomes be aligned with or at odds with CE principles? and conversely 2) If CE principles guided action, would the outcomes be aligned with or at odds with SMM principles? Using concrete pavement as an example, this paper seeks to determine whether or not Sustainable Materials Management and Circular Economy are simply different roads leading to the same destination.

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  • 2017-05

Contento Recycling: The Evolution of Sustainability

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While the term sustainability is commonly used in 2019, in 1950, it was sparsely uttered. To understand how Contento Recycling LLC became Central New York’s leader in sustainable development, you

While the term sustainability is commonly used in 2019, in 1950, it was sparsely uttered. To understand how Contento Recycling LLC became Central New York’s leader in sustainable development, you must go back to Gerald Contento Sr, and the year 1950. This was the year my grandfather started our family’s vehicle dismantling and scrap metal recycling business. Over the course of the next 70 years, Contento’s and now, Contento Recycling, has evolved into a leader in recycling and environmental work in Central New York. To see how I created a sustainable business enterprise, you must analyze my family’s past. My family’s history provides a roadmap to a more sustainable future.
When I established Contento Recycling LLC in 2017, it was poised to be Central New York’s first ever construction and demolition debris recycling business. I was tasked with the challenge that many sustainability professionals are tasked with and that was to show the community why they should stop taking their construction debris to the landfill, and instead bring it to my recycling center for processing, recycling, and landfill diversion. Over the last several years I applied for state grant funding, spread awareness about my new business, designed and constructed a material recovery facility, outfitted equipment, and trained staff. I now have a facility that accepts about 40 tons of mixed C&D debris per day, and diverts about 20% of that from the landfill.
On a more personal level, I learned a tremendous amount about dealing with change management. I’ve learned a lot about business development, and some keys to success when building a business. I’ve figured out how to help my employees and customers grow. I’ve learned to be more patient and flexible with my business endeavors. I have a much clearer vision of what I want for my business and for myself. I have developed a rousing optimism on the impact that my business, and myself can have on the sustainable development of Central New York. I will be a leader in environmental stewardship and partner with other people and organizations who want to work towards a more sustainable future.

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  • 2019-05-15

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Quantifying the Impact of Circular Economy Applied to the Built Environment: A Study of Construction and Demolition Waste to Identify Leverage Points

Description

The built environment is responsible for a significant portion of global waste generation.

Construction and demolition (C&D) waste requires significant landfill areas and costs

billions of dollars. New business models that reduce

The built environment is responsible for a significant portion of global waste generation.

Construction and demolition (C&D) waste requires significant landfill areas and costs

billions of dollars. New business models that reduce this waste may prove to be financially

beneficial and generally more sustainable. One such model is referred to as the “Circular

Economy” (CE), which promotes the efficient use of materials to minimize waste

generation and raw material consumption. CE is achieved by maximizing the life of

materials and components and by reclaiming the typically wasted value at the end of their

life. This thesis identifies the potential opportunities for using CE in the built environment.

It first calculates the magnitude of C&D waste and its main streams, highlights the top

C&D materials based on weight and value using data from various regions, identifies the

top C&D materials’ current recycling and reuse rates, and finally estimates a potential

financial benefit of $3.7 billion from redirecting C&D waste using the CE concept in the

United States.

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  • 2019