Recycled Your Home — Tips for Reducing Renovation Waste

By Justin Havre

To save your money and the environment, it’s important to consider what can be reused or repurposed in your life.

Recycling is (thankfully) becoming an increasingly normal part of daily life for many households. Families are becoming more accustomed to recycling glass, plastic bags, aluminum cans, cardboard, and newspapers. However, there are events that occur when recycling may not only be prudent but can actually pay dividends. One of these situations is when a home is undergoing a significant remodel or upgrade.

While many homeowners will end up paying for removal of debris during and following a remodel, many materials can actually be recycled. Others can be reused or repurposed.

Here are some tips for reducing landfill waste when renovating a house:

Fixtures and Wiring

A remodel can mean upgrading things like metal faucets, light fixtures, and wiring. Much of this older material, like copper, has significant value and should be separated during demolition for recycling. Keeping metals separated into various buckets (copper, aluminum, steel, iron etc.) will provide you a greater return from a recycler, who will pay for clean, separated metals.

Roofing Materials

Roofs are made of a variety of materials that either can be recycled or repurposed. Here are some examples:

  • Asphalt shingles. The most popular form of roofing, asphalt shingles can have a useful lifespan of anywhere from ten to 25 years. Once removed from a home, they can be chopped up and recycled into a variety of products including paving materials. Contact a local recycling center to find a recycler who may be willing to take your old asphalt roof shingles.
  • Slate. Slate roofing can last 100 years or more and often can be repurposed for another smaller roof, shed or even used decoratively in a home. Slate can be re-used as flooring or even as a countertop material.
  • Metal roofing. Aluminum and steel are the most common materials used in metal roofing and these materials are easy to recycle once removed and free of nails or other materials.
  • EPDM material. This is a rubber-like material that is usually installed in larger sheets, frequently on flatter, industrial or commercial buildings. While previously disposed of in landfills, today it is being more frequently recycled into soft coatings for concrete or metals.

Major Appliances

A significant kitchen remodel will often include upgrading appliances that are still in working condition. In many cases, these major appliances can be donated or sold. If they are near the end of the useful lives, they may use more electricity than they are worth. In these situations, major appliances can be recycled.

Millwork, Cabinets, and Flooring

Before replacing kitchen or bathroom cabinets, consider resurfacing them. If they are too outdated, they still may have a use as storage cabinetry in a garage or basement. Rather than simply destroying them for disposal, have cabinets removed to sell or donate to someone who may have a use for them. Millwork and flooring can also be resurfaced or removed for use in another application.

You can reduce renovation waste by recycling the fixtures, flooring, countertops, roofing materials and more.


Countertops made of quality materials like granite, quartz, and marble have the highest value on the secondary and resale market, especially if they are in significant lengths and in good condition. Contractors will often repurpose these materials for smaller areas or as vanity countertops. Keep in mind these countertops are extremely heavy and may be best left to a professional to remove. 

Challenging Materials to Recycle

While most materials either can be repurposed or recycled, some home improvement projects will generate waste that is a challenge to dispose of. Used carpeting, for example, has little use and little to no recycling value. Toilets and ceramics may only be taken by recyclers who handle concrete. Larger items like shower installations and bathtubs may have to be cut or disassembled to be removed from a premise. Wallboard, sheetrock, and older wood will also have little or no value to repurpose or recycle. 

Before embarking on any remodeling or renovation project, it is generally a good idea to do some research in advance. Contact area recycling centers, talk to your contractors. Recycling and repurposing during a remodel can take some extra time and effort but it can pay dividends. I will also have you feeling just a bit better knowing you did the right thing. 

This article first appeared on

Justin Havre is an award-winning real estate agent and leads the Justin Havre & Associates: Calgary Real Estate Professionals. You can also find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


One thought

  1. I like that you recommend having a professional remove your countertop for recycling since they’re extremely heavy. When choosing one, it would probably be a good idea to research local companies to find one that accepts the type of material and item that you want to recycle. This could ensure they know how to handle it and how to properly remove it so that you won’t have to worry about damage or other problems.

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