Recycling gives new life to construction leftovers Supplies collected, sold to non-profits

November 29, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Fred Bohman took the leftovers from 16 1/2 years of working on his house to the Loading Dock yesterday.

It took nearly an hour to transfer a sliding glass door, roofing shingles, miscellaneous hardware, pieces of lumber, particle board, tar paper, pipe and sheets of Formica from his van to the waiting 2 1/2 -ton truck with the Loading Dock logo.

Mr. Bohman has finished a detached two-car garage, put new shingles on the roof, built a 12-by-16-foot storage shed and put a 16-by-20-foot deck on the house, always making sure he did work that would last.

The materials the self-described "complete do-it-yourselfer" had accumulated in the garage of his Mayberry Road home over the years had to go. Mr. Bohman was laid off from his job at Westinghouse Electric Corp., and he and his wife may have to move so he can take a job in Westinghouse's South Carolina plant. But at least the materials didn't end up in the county landfill.

Mr. Bohman said he had no idea of the items' value. "I'm just glad they can use most of it," he said.

The Loading Dock, a Baltimore-based non-profit building supplies recycler, has a warehouse on Gwynns Falls Parkway filled with paint, lumber, plumbing fixtures, doors and windows that non-profit housing contractors can buy for about one-third of the retail price.

The recycled building materials are used for projects as small as renovation of a day-care center and as large as affordable housing for the poor.

Items received from the landfills "cater to the smaller sweat-equity non-profits," said Hope Cucina, executive director of the Loading Dock. "Monday through Friday, we focus on manufacturers and distributors [for donations that] answer the needs of the larger non-profits."

The 8-year-old building supplies recycler started as a clearinghouse to handle materials donated to Baltimore City-based agencies such as the St. Ambrose Housing Agency. Loading Dock staff members contacted suburban county governments several years ago to ask about providing trucks to landfills.

Montgomery County quickly accepted, and the Loading Dock now has a drop-off container at the landfill to receive supplies every other Wednesday. Howard County was next, and the recycling truck has been making monthly Saturday stops at the county landfill in Marriottsville for 1 1/2 years.

Visits to Carroll County's landfill at Reese started three months ago. The network of local contractors that will donate unused building materials is just starting to grow here as the Loading Dock gets established in the county, Ms. Cucina said.

"I do think there are a lot of contractors out there who are trying to be environmentally conscious," she said.

Donors get a tax deduction and save on the county landfill fees, the county government saves landfill space and the Loading Dock, which never has enough supplies to meet demand, gets usable building materials.

"I think it's a great idea. It saves landfill space," said Mark MacLellan, a Baltimore County resident who helps in his father's home improvement business.

The two men, who contributed windows, two patio doors and a storm door, said they didn't know about the Loading Dock until they drove up and the landfill attendant told them about the project. The materials are still usable, Mr. MacLellan said.

"It was just because someone's taste changed," he said.

Ms. Cucina said that on an average Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the landfill, the recyclers net 3 to 5 tons of materials.

But the Loading Dock's fortunes rise and fall with those of the housing construction industry.

"We were devastated last January," Ms. Cucina said. "Our donors were devastated and so were we." The pace of donations has picked up in the past few months "just enough to give you hope."

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