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Name: Lynn Slezak
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Is it possible to build a house completely out of recycled materials without any substance that was not recycled in it?

Thanks for your question. I believe it would be possible, though most likely some allowances would have to be made for substitution of what is considered "traditional" in a home with more natural materials. For example, I do not think a home's paint could be recycled, but a substitution might be made from coloring a recycled material for use as the walls of the n home. Considerations in recycling for use in building a total home would include three major issues: cost of recycling the materials for reuse; structural integrity (i.e. strength of the home components compared to materials normally used in construction); and finally desirability of such a home to a purchaser, related to options and substitutions made. Cost of the home would involve how difficult recycling each of the materials might be, and this would translate into cost.

For a person for whom cost is no problem, this might not be a limitation, but that would not apply to most people. Strength of such a home would affect such matters as insurability and feeling of safety while living there in storms, floods, etc. This would differ depending on area of country and typical weather. Desirability related to substitutions means how much someone might not like a "paint substitute" as described above, or perhaps the look of a reconstituted wood product instead of the original solid wood product. A serious recycler might think this unimportant.


Another point to consider is building code requirements.

There are numerous municipalities and county ordinances which do not allow for the use of some recycled materials already available on the market. The reasons for this are mainly due to structural integrity and safety (many recycled materials are not very fire-resistant. This is because of the degradation caused by the chemicals used to treat the recycled products.

I agree fully with the previous post concerning consumer wants, needs, and demands for recycled products. Right now (except for paper), there is little demand for recycled products that can be used in home construction.

Center for International Trade in Forest Products Forest Products Marketing


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