A British Columbia company is trying to take what’s left of a build and keep it out of landfill.
Sea to Sky Removal is the region’s first waste disposal company to install recycling stations on construction sites, and recently won a Small Business BC Award in the Best Concept category.
“Construction is an area that generally has not thought about recycling within the industry,” said Sea to Sky Removal co-owner Chris Arkell. “It’s an old school mentality and the industry doesn’t have the tools to do it.”
Arkell said much of the waste produced during a construction project can be recycled rather than disposed of.
“From the amount of waste coming out construction, a very small portion needs to go into landfill. Most of it can be separated,” he said.
“It’s crazy to see what construction companies throw away. We want to create more awareness and conversation around construction industry waste, with the ultimate goal of diverting recyclable materials from landfills. When it comes to sustainability, the industry needs a nudge in the right direction,” Arkell said in a release after winning the Small Business BC Award.
Sea to Sky Removal crews use a process called “live loading” where material is hand-sorted and hand-loaded before being loaded into trucks, with approximately 300 pounds of recycling diverted for each service.
We hand sort everything and also provide sites with recycling stations that gives contractors the ability to sort themselves,” Arkell said.
The company also provides photo documentation and diversion percentage reports for Built Green and LEED projects where contractors need to track their materials post-build.
While most of its work is in the Lower Mainland, its service area extends up the Sea to Sky area and to Penticton, B.C.
“Commercial construction are larger buildings, but residential products actually produce a lot more waste,” Arkell said.
Hazardous material is more often found in residential projects.
“Houses built before 1990 have the largest amount of hazardous material. New commercial buildings have very little hazardous material,” he said.
Since construction waste regularly includes potentially dangerous material, recycling workers wear protective gear.
“The crews have gloves, steel toes and safety masks when there’s dust involved. We also use safety suits when dealing with airborne material,” explained Arkell.
The largest job to date the firm has tackled, Arkell said, was when Sea to Sky Removal and a partner tackled a 24,000-square-foot warehouse filled with abandoned movie sets.
“All of it was spared from landfill,” he said.
The company also provides recycling tutorials for contractors who wish to establish their own sustainability policies and donates reusable materials to non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity, the Whistler Re-Build-It Centre and Squamish Rebuild.