Across the world, forward-thinking cities, municipalities, and lawmakers are thinking about landfill waste in new ways. In July, for example, Portland, Ore. became the first city in the country to ensure that valuable materials from demolished houses are salvaged for reuse instead of crushed and landfilled.

Here in the Twin Cities, landfilling is becoming a growing problem, according to a recent story in the Star Tribune. “While landfilling has been on the decline locally since a peak in 2006, the Twin Cities still sent more than twice as much trash to landfills in 2015 by weight than it did a quarter century ago, data show….That 774,000 tons weighs more than two Empire State Buildings. After being compacted, that’s still about a Metrodome-sized mass of leftover food, product packaging, and other garbage entering the ground every two years.”

In addition, that’s also a lot of construction and demolition waste entering the ground. In Minnesota, more than 80 percent of the 1.6 million tons of construction and demolition waste was landfilled in 2013, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The MPCA is increasingly concerned about construction and demolition waste, which now exceeds more than traditional household and commercial waste. Yet much of this waste can be recycled or reused, not only reducing waste in the landfill, but greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2016, through deconstruction services, Better Futures Minnesota helped recycle or reuse more than 1,571 tons of building materials. In fact, for each deconstruction job, skilled crews worked to recycle and reuse 85 percent of all building materials. The end result: 750.5 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were avoided, according to Ecotone Analytics Environmental Impact Analysis.

Greenhouse gas emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential to creating healthy, strong communities in Minnesota.

At Better Futures Minnesota, we’re committed to transforming the lives of men, creating good, green jobs, and helping Minnesota get to net-zero waste. Learn more about how you can support our mission!