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The largest contribution to the landfill and cleanfill will be when a building reaches the end of its useful life.

The method of building removal determines whether a building becomes waste or provides building materials for reuse. Traditional demolition methods can produce a lot of waste by destroying the component parts. Deconstruction - careful and selective dismantling and separation for reuse and recycling - reduces the volume of waste disposed to landfill and cleanfill ad allows the removal of components in a form that can easily be reused.

Most buildings that have reached the end of their desired life or are undergoing renovations have materials and systems that still have some useful life, and most items recovered from existing buildings can be reused or recycled into useable materials.


Doors and windows

  • Doors, aluminium steel or timber - reuse with full frame and hardware, recycle by removing glass and recycle frame and glass separately.
  • Overhead doors - reuse (springs can have a short lifetime, so replace these).
  • Mechanical closers - reuse.
  • Panic hardware - reuse.
  • Double glazing or IGUs (insulating glazing units) - reuse if no internal condensation or recycle glass by separating from edge seal.
  • Unframed glass mirrors - reuse.
  • Store fronts - reuse, best to be kept in one unit.
  • Skylights - reuse, ensure that seal is not broken.
  • Glass from windows and doors - reuse, recycle.
  • Timber or metal from frames - recycle.

Electrical and plumbing fixtures and fittings

  • Baths, sinks, toilets etc - reuse.
  • Taps - reuse, metal is recyclable.
  • Switches - reuse.
  • Light fittings - reuse.
  • Service equipment - reuse stoves, heaters, air conditioners; all metal components recyclable.
  • Wiring - recycle without insulation.

Hazardous materials

In the interests of health and safety you should check the removal and disposal requirements of hazardous materials with your city or district council. Hazardous wastes from demolition of buildings includes:

  • fluorescent light ballasts manufactured prior to 1978 - contain PCBs
  • fluorescent lamps - contain mercury
  • refrigeration, air conditioning, and other equipment that contain refrigerants made using CFCs
  • batteries - contain lead, mercury and acid
  • paints, solvents and other hazardous fluids
  • asbestos-based materials
  • materials with lead-based finishes.


  • Fibreglass/mineral wool/polyester batt insulation - reuse.
  • Rigid fibreglass insulation - reuse.
  • Polystyrene rigid insulation - reuse, metal part of ‘sandwich panel' is recyclable.
  • Loose fill chip/pellet/shreds - reuse

Linings and finishings

  • Carpet/carpet tiles - reuse for original purpose or for planting projects, recycle.
  • Terracotta tile - reuse, otherwise recycle with concrete and masonry.
  • Architraves skirtings, scotia, trim - reuse or recycle if damaged.
  • Timber panelling - reuse/recycle. If untreated, check regarding paint/varnish finishes.
  • Specialty timber fittings - reuse (includes mantels, built-in shelving, bookcases, mouldings and window sashes).
  • Joinery - reuse/recycle.

Timber products from demolition

  • Engineered timber panels (ETP) - reuse.
  • Native timbers - recycle/reuse lengths greater than 0.6 metres, recycle architectural features that have no borer or other damage, preferably nail-free.
  • Hardwood timbers - recycle/reuse lengths greater than 0.6 metres, recycle architectural features that have no borer or other damage, preferably nail-free.
  • Hardwood flooring - reuse if tongue and groove flooring. Thin strip flooring is not reusable (i.e. too thin for refinishing).
  • Laminated beams - reuse.
  • Timber truss joists - reuse.
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