Material Waste Minimisation In Construction Industry Construction Essay

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Due to its adverse impact on the environment, resource depletion, construction industry has been increasingly under pressure to reduce construction material waste. Relatively large amount of materials has being wasted by the construction industry. For example, in Hong Kong it contribute about 38% of overall landfill volumes in the USA it contributes approximately 29%, Australia it contributes 20-30%, in the UK it contributes more than 50% and in (Shen et al, 2009: Loosemore et al, 2001;). Likewise 30 per cent of solid waste is form construction industry in Canada (Silva, 2008). The researches (Bossink et al 1996) found that, about 1-10 per cent (by weight) of the construction materials is left as waste at the residential projects in The Netherlands.

The generation of construction waste is not only affecting the cost, but also deplete the resource. Most of the raw materials used in construction come from natural resources (Ekanayake et al, 2000). Therefore it is important to reduce the waste for the sustainable development.

Construction waste

Waste was defined as any material by-product of human and industrial activity that has no residual value. But by the Building Research Establishment (BRE), building waste has been defined as the difference between materials ordered and those placed for fixing on building projects (Silva et al 2008).

Latter the Hong Kong polytechnic (1993) defines construction waste as the "by product generated and removed from construction, renovation and demolition work places or sites of building and civil engineering structures" (Silva et al 2008).

Construction waste management strategies

There are our main construction waste management strategies were identified from the literature (Silva et al, 2008; Faniran et al, 1998;Gavilan et al, 1994). They are:

(1) avoid;

(2) reuse;

(3) recycling; and

(4) disposal.

Among these four strategies, avoiding waste which refers elimination of waste at source, has been given the highest priority as it requires the least resources other than designing and planning skills. The waste minimization culture development in the construction industry may be the initial process of a minimization strategy (Loosemore et al 2001). Furthermore Faniran et al (1998) argue that, highest concern should be given avoiding waste than re-using and recycling because re-using, recycling and disposal don't avoid the generation of wastes. Moving materials from one application to another is referred as reuse (Figure1). Recycling is a process of separation and recycling of recoverable waste materials generated in construction process. As finally disposal, where all these above strategy not possible disposal should be applied. However disposal or landfill is normally practice in many countries.

Construction waste type

Construction waste has been mainly divided into two types; direct waste and indirect waste. As cited in Gavilan and Bernold 1994, Skoyles and Skoyles (1987) defined direct waste, as the waste that can be prevented and involved the actual loss or removal and replacement of a material, while in-direct waste is not wasted physically; but the payment for the material can be wasted partially or totally. The researches Bossink et al (1996) grouped the causes of direct and indirect wastes into six categories, including procurement, design, material handling, residual, operation and others such as theft. The study Gavilan et al (1994), found that most of the waste generated from residual. In the study of Silva et al 2008, they have divided in to three main categories; material, labour, machinery.

The construction industry is the largest buyer of forestry sector (77.23%), mining & quarrying sector (76.45%) (COWAM,2009).As most of the material in construction industry come from natural resource, material waste minimisation is important for sustainability.


"Literature review" and "Questionnaire" are the two methods to collect the data. Related article and journal will be studied and data will be collected by questionnaire to determine the material waste minimising strategy adopted in Construction Company in Srilanka. The questions will be focussed to determine (1) whether company use any strategy for material waste minimisation and what strategy; (2) reason for material waste. Online interaction form will be used for data collection, but it will be motivated by email and telephone. Telephone interview will be done for small company who don't use internet for their day to day activities. As I am also in the same business I am expecting more response rate on this both methods. The questionnaire target not only managerial level professional but also all employees in constructions field such as supervisor, quantity surveyor, draughtsmen, ect. Face to face interview and site visit will not be done for this study because of time and cost.

The Institute for Construction Training and Development (ICTAD) is regulative body of government. Almost all construction companies are registered in this organisation including my own company. All contractor details can be received from the list of ICTAD. There are very fewer contractor will be neglected for this study who are not in the ICTAD list. They might be new to construction industry or no longer in construction.

Government departments and private organizations (like NGO) are the major client in construction industry in Srilanka. So the data will be collected from them in various levels of this department and organization. In the study individual client will not be counted because of small part on client list in construction.

Ten (say) building project details such as final bill, quantity of material purchased will be collected from contractor. Normally companies do not release this type of data as it is connected to the profit. But I hope as this result will going to help some of them can give this details. As I need quantity of final bill (quantity considered for pay them) and total quantity of material purchased, most of them will not hesitate to give it. As it is difficult to consider all the material in building construction, quantity wise more used material like sand, brick and steel will be considered for the study. In the Building Stranded Rate (BSR), every item of BoQ have been scheduled with the allowable material waste. So in my study I will not consider as waste which is allowed in BSR. In the real practise, there will be some material become as balance, due to improper order. This also will be calculated as material waste. Due the improper maintaining of bookkeeping, difficulty may arise when calculating quantity of material purchased. This could be overcome by cost and price rate of material (during the period when it was purchased - high infiltration in srilanka)