Forms of Waste Encountered During Disaster Clean-Up

Living in Oklahoma, we’re no strangers to natural disasters and the waste they leave in their wake. When a tornado hits, it can demolish everything in its path and create a huge mess of various debris to clean up. It can also damage buildings to the point that they are no longer structurally sound and will need to be demolished. There are all kinds of waste created by a natural disaster, and here are the most common we see.


One of the most common forms of natural disaster waste is best summed up as rubble. This can consist of different building materials like concrete, steel, wood, and brick. Thankfully, this kind of waste can easily be recycled after it's sorted. Concrete and bricks can be re-crushed, steel can be melted down, and wood can be composted. Recycling the waste is a great way to limit the environmental impact of a natural disaster and create new building supplies for rebuilding whatever the disaster damaged.


Whether in homes or in offices, appliances can contain chemicals that are dangerous to both the natural environment and to the people who may come into contact with them. Chemicals like PCB capacitors, refrigerants, and mercury are all highly dangerous and very common in appliances. When we come across appliances that have been displaced by a natural disaster, we carefully haul them away to a demanufacturing site where they can safely be disassembled.


Although it is rarely used today, asbestos was a popular building material for things like siding before we knew the dangers associated with asbestos. These older materials are still safe as long as they remain contained in their outer coating, but if the coating is broken asbestos can contaminate the surrounding environment. If a tornado goes through a neighborhood with older houses, it’s likely asbestos siding can be ripped off the house and cracked open, exposing the asbestos. To protect ourselves and the environment, we take extra safety measures to ensure any asbestos is detected and contained.