Recycling building materials: what to collect and where to put them.

Whether it’s a residential renovation, a building site or a demolition project, waste is an inevitable part of the equation. Not only do construction activities generate large amounts of waste, but much of this debris is sent to landfills.

At Group Bellemare, we have a RECYC-QUÉBEC approved sorting centre, as well as a landfill site. We successfully recycle or revitalize over 64% of the construction waste that goes to our sorting centre. Every year, we put tens of thousands of tons of material back into the market as an environmentally friendly alternative. 

Learn how to identify which materials from your construction projects can be recycled, how to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner, how to choose the best recycling facility and much more!

What is considered construction waste?

Construction waste is all materials and debris generated by construction and demolition activities.

Construction waste varies by project type and job site, but can consist of a variety of materials from brick, wood and glass to insulation products, pipes and concrete.

Types of Construction Waste

Construction waste can generally be classified into three broad categories.

Building Materials

This waste comes from the construction and renovation of buildings and other structures. Waste building materials are typically the result of unused or damaged materials such as wood, drywall, bricks, wiring and nails.

Demolition Waste

Demolition waste is any debris from a demolition project. This includes both hazardous materials (including asbestos) and building materials such as concrete, metal, wood, glass and shingles. While hazardous debris must be carefully handled and disposed of, non-hazardous demolition debris can often be recycled or reused.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste includes all materials that contain hazardous substances. Common examples include asbestos, specially treated wood, leftover paint, adhesives and other chemicals (and their containers, due to persistent contaminants).

These materials should not be taken to traditional recycling centres, but rather to specialized locations. Make sure you are well informed if you end up with such waste. 

What are the benefits of recycling building materials?

Of course, recycling your building materials properly demands extra effort and planning. However, this little extra step is beneficial to everyone, whether you are an individual or a building contractor. 

Benefits for all

  • Reduce the ecological footprint.
  • Avoid overloading landfills.
  • Reduce production of new building materials.

Benefits for contractors

  • Ensure the safety of employees on the job site.
  • Reduce expenses associated with the purchase of new materials. 
  • Improve your reputation with your customers (environmental consciousness).
  • Raise awareness among team members, who will be inclined to replicate these good habits in their personal lives and future jobs. 

Choose the right container before the sorting centre 

A construction waste container allows you to start sorting materials right on the job site. Choosing the right container is an important step in the recycling process. Here is a complete guide to help you make the best choice for your project.

Our Bellemare Environnement division offers rental of more than 360 containers!

Main materials accepted at the Groupe Bellemare sorting centre and their uses

Here are the materials that are most frequently recycled in our sorting centre which holds the silver certification of the programme de reconnaissance des centres de tri CRD par RECYC-QUÉBEC (in French only). Also check out some of the ways these materials are being reused. 

If your projects leave you with large amounts of debris, rest assured that it will be accepted.

Brick, Concrete and Asphalt

Asphalt, concrete, brick and paver debris from construction projects are sorted, crushed and returned to the market as an environmentally friendly alternative to natural aggregates. These B.N.Q. standardized recycled aggregates are equivalent to quarry stone and are prepared in 0 - ¾” or 0 - 2½”.

Metals, Plastics and Cardboard

Cardboard, plastic and metals are sorted and sent to processors who will return them to the market in the form of new products.


Once sorted and shredded, 95% of the paper is extracted from the gypsum by sieving. The gypsum paper can be used as animal bedding or buried. Rich in calcium, the sieved granular gypsum with a size of 0 to 1.5 mm is ideal in agriculture as an amendment (fertilizer).


After being sorted, the wood is ground into chips. Depending on the quality, it is used for the manufacture of particle board, suspended ceilings, composite insulation panels, furniture, structures or frameworks, wood pellets, animal bedding and for biomass cogeneration.


The asphalt shingle is crushed and the bitumen grain is separated from the fibre. The grain, once crushed, can be used as an additive in the asphalt. The bitumen fibre, on the other hand, has the calorific value of coal and can therefore be used in energy recovery (cement plants).


Colour-sorted glass is an excellent material to make new glass with 30% energy savings.

The mixed glass is treated to be used as synthetic sand, without crystalline silica and therefore without risk for silicosis or lung infections.

Uses: sandblasting, filtration, cementitious additives, fillers (coating), mineral wool insulation or fibreglass, anti-skid dust for painted floors, decorative aggregates (mulch), plastics and adhesives.

Materials refused at the Groupe Bellemare sorting centre

The following materials can pose health risks to the sorting facility. It is important to follow the rules specific to each of them to dispose of them safely. 

  • Household waste
  • Asbestos
  • Chemical products
  • Ammunition, explosives, firearms
  • Household hazardous waste
  • Tires
  • Animal carcasses
  • Drugs, syringes and biomedical waste
  • Upholstery (sofas, chairs, mattresses…)
  • Radioactive waste

How to reduce construction waste?

A few simple tips can help you reduce the amount of waste generated by your residential, commercial or industrial projects. Reducing construction waste should always be the priority, but it is essential to know how to reuse or recycle when this is not possible.

The hierarchy for managing construction waste is as follows: reduce, reuse, recycle, dispose. 

Reduce the amount of construction waste

Choose what you buy carefully. Meticulous planning will ensure that you do not purchase excess and/or inappropriate materials. 

Reuse Materials

Identify materials that you can reuse for another project, such as bricks, windows, tiles, etc. It is also possible to exchange materials with friends, neighbours or other contractors, as well as participate in return programs. Some of these programs allow you to return excess materials to the original manufacturer.

Recycle building materials

A large percentage of your waste is probably recyclable through the sorting centre, including metal, paper, plastic, wood, glass, concrete, plaster, asphalt, etc. 

If you are unsure of what materials can and cannot be recycled on your site, and how to separate and store them before recycling, contact one of our experts.

Disposing of construction waste

If you find that some materials cannot be recycled or reused, your last resort is to dispose of them. You can contact a specialized company that will take care of transporting the waste in dedicated dumpsters and transporting it to the right place (landfill or other).

You need our services?

Whether you are in the middle of a construction project or planning one soon, our experts will be happy to assist you and answer all your questions.



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