Why a Calgary realtor built a comprehensive recyclables listing

Justin Havre’s website includes a comprehensive list of building materials and whether they can be recycled.

CALGARY – Justin Havre is a Calgary, Alberta-based realtor who has recently launched an online resource for households looking to reduce waste during large renovation and/or demolition projects.

He and his team thought it could be a helpful guide for people looking to learn about what they can and can’t reuse or recycle in their home, given that the Canadian construction industry generates about nine million tons of waste annually.

We asked Justin a few questions about his project and the motivation behind it:

SWR: Please describe the project in a few sentences.

JH: This is a guide that might help people look at their homes as not a singular object, but a collection of pieces and parts that may or not be reused or recycled. Breaking it down this way might help some understand just how much waste can occur during demolition or remodeling projects in which everything is sent to a landfill.

SWR: Why did you decide to do it?

JH: When someone decides to remodel their house, the first thing on their mind might not be “What should I do with the things I’m replacing?”. Sometimes, homeowners might just be unaware of what they can and can’t recycle or they might not think to ask their contractors what they do with recyclable materials. I thought creating something like this page could help remind people to ask those questions.

As well, while recycling programs and facilities will vary widely by area or region, I believe this knowledge could go a long way in making people think critically about unnecessary waste.

SWR: Where did you get the information?

JH: This might have been the most time consuming part of making our resource. We started off with general recycling information from both Canada and U.Ss government websites, but soon found that we’d need to be a bit more granular in our search efforts. For each material commonly found in different areas of the house, we’d search to see if it’s possible to recycle or reuse, and we’d try to see how common this type of recycling is at the moment.

SWR: Did you do the whole thing yourself?

JH: Thankfully, I was able to get help from my team on this project and we were able to divide and conquer the different steps from researching/browsing various recycling facility websites to outlining and writing the page. Without their help, this would probably still be an idea stuck in my head.

SWR: How long did it take to prepare?

JH: The page took a couple of months to create after verbalizing this was something I’d like to do. Since we have a lot of other things going on in our business, it wasn’t something we could work on all day/every day.

SWR: Who do you expect to use it?

JH: I think this would be most useful for homeowners or commercial building owners. I suppose anyone who deals with construction/demolition waste might find some actionable information in there.

SWR: Does it only apply to Calgary residents or is it more universal?

JH: This is meant to be a universal resource. It wasn’t made with any specific region’s recycling programs in mind because these programs will likely change over time, and – even if there is no facility to process a specific material nearby – sometimes we can find a creative way to reuse or repurpose various materials and items.

SWR: Did it cost much to create it?

JH: I’m actually not too sure what the exact cost of this would come out to, but – if we count the hours spent on this over the course of a few months as an expense – I could see it costing around maybe a few thousand dollars when everything is said and done.