Nonprofit Keeps Unwanted Building Materials Out Of The Dumpster

May 02, 2014

(Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)
Karen Jayne is the Executive Director of Stardust Building Supplies.
(Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)
Jason Carlyle leads one of Stardust's deconstruction crews.
(Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)
A member of Stardust's deconstruction crew removes the cabinets in a north Scottsdale kitchen.
(Photo by Nick Blumberg - KJZZ)
Stardust loads the unwanted building materials into its truck and takes them to one of its three stores.

By one government estimate, 160 million tons of construction and demolition waste end up in landfills every year. One Valley nonprofit is trying to keep some of it out of the trash.

Just after 7 a.m. on a recent weekday morning, a team from Stardust Building Supplies is hard at work.

"We are in a house that is up in the north Scottsdale area, and [it] looks to me like they're doing a complete remodel," said Karen Jayne, executive director of Stardust.

Its crew is doing what's called a deconstruction. Instead of just taking a sledgehammer to everything the homeowner wants to get rid of, Stardust carefully removes the material.

"I believe we're taking the kitchen, a couple of bathrooms, chandeliers, light fixtures, and some built-ins, like a built-in bar," Jayne said.

"It's cool because it's all one big piece and it's got a sink in it. That's what I like about it," said Jason Carlyle, a Stardust deconstruction supervisor. "I run a crew and we do, on average, two homes a day. Kitchens, bathrooms, doors, windows, appliances. "We get some odd stuff sometimes. We've taken elevators out of people's homes, we've taken statues and flagpoles."

Carlyle said the main goal is to change the idea behind a remodel.

"Instead of the old-fashioned, get a Dumpster out front and throw stuff away, there is somebody out there that's willing to go through and see if there's a reuse for it," he said.

In the kitchen, Carlyle's crew is removing all the cabinets. They're in great shape, even if they're painted an interesting shade of sea green. Workers remove the doors, unscrew the cabinets from the wall, and carry them out to a truck.

Those cabinets and the rest of the unwanted material in this house are headed to one of Stardust's three stores, where they're sold at a discount. Karen Jayne said the proceeds benefit two programs that help nonprofit agencies and low-income homeowners.

"Last year we distributed over $2.8 million worth of usable material back into the community that might otherwise just have gone to the landfill," Jayne said.

A lot of material, Carlyle said. "We save an average of 650 tons a year from going to our landfills."

According to the EPA, construction and demolition debris accounts for a quarter of non-industrial waste in the United States each year.

See all the stories in the Rubbish Series.