CMRA's New Voice

CONSTRUCTION AND DEMOLITION (C&D) debris recyclers say there's never been a group advocating for their needs at the state and local level — until now. Thanks to $25,000 in donations, the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA) has founded the Issues and Education Fund, whose goal is to assist C&D recyclers through research and advocacy.

The CMRA, Lisle, Ill., has served the construction and demolition (C&D) processing and recycling industry since 1995. However, the association's special nonprofit status has historically prevented the organization from lobbying on behalf of recyclers, according to William Turley, executive director. So when the CRMA recognized some of its members' needs were not being served, it decided to create the fund to conduct research that then can be used to respond to various C&D recycling issues, especially among local and state governments and legislatures.

For example, in many states, small C&D “fines” that fall through a screen during processing typically are sent to a landfill. But the fines could represent a portion of C&D materials that could be used elsewhere and put to better use, Turley explains. The CMRA would like to research the possibilities, such as performing the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure on thousands of samples to allow recyclers and government to better understand if fines could be used as an alternative landfill daily cover. And the new Issues and Education fund would provide the means to test the fines and to place CMRA members in front of regulators to share their findings

“[We want] to show whether the material is dangerous or not,” Turley says. “The fund will help us gather the information to … show regulators that C&D facilities are safe.”

According to Turley, the fund, which the CMRA hopes to grow, also will help cover the costs of transporting the association's members so that they can meet with legislative officials. This is important because “there are opponents to recycling out there that have very strong lobbyists in each state capital,” Turley says. “We hope to try to counter them. We think that C&D recyclers have a very good story to tell, and this is our chance to tell it.”

Long-range plans for the fund still are being developed, according to Turley. “We want to get the basic stuff done first,” he says. “There's nobody advocating for the C&D recyclers at the state and local level, outside of the individual companies themselves.”