Minimizing Waste And Construction Waste Construction Essay

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The Building Act 2004 contains principles which the Department of Building and Housing, and building consent authorities, have to take into account in their duties under the Act. These principles include the reduction of waste during all stages of construction and the efficient use of materials.

As they have become part of the Building Code, efficient use of materials and waste minimisation must be complied.

1.2 Construction Waste Impacts

1.2.1 Environmental cost

It is commonly assumed that approximately 10% of all building materials will be discarded as waste, which makes up to 40% of all landfill in Australia. The environmental effects from waste materials include:

Pollution air, water and land from making and disposal of materials;

Greenhouse gas emissions;

Decrease of scarce resources;

Energy and other resources used in making, transporting and installing materials.

1.2.2 Financial costs

When materials are wasted, the construction company and the client:

Pay more than required for purchase, storage and transport of materials;

May be missing out on additional income from salvaged materials.

Apart from being able to save money and environment by waste minimisation, the company can also provide a great example of best practise to highlight what can really be achieved within construction industry.

2.0 Construction Waste

Construction waste includes concrete waste, timber waste, brick waste, metal waste, casing materials, insulation, nails, piping and wires among others. It is estimated that 0.6 - 1 m3 of compact waste materials could be produced on an average construction work day. This volume will gradually decrease as the phase nears its completion. Waste minimisation is part of the "lean construction ethos", meaning that waste minimisation must be considered the design, contractual and construction phases. This includes the clients, architects, designers and contractors.

Client can lay down environmental criteria or insisting in planning documents that waste minimisation is achieved. Designers can do their part by reducing source wastage by specifying the correct resources and can influence use and specification of a particular type of materials to minimise waste. Suppliers can be encouraged to supply materials in exact amount and use less packaging if possible. Contractors and subcontractors can minimise waste of materials on-site, re-use materials and reduce poor handling procedures.

Recording and monitoring - the contractors will fill in a weekly log of all materials that come on to site and the project manager will receive a printed sheet from the waste disposal company of the exact amount of waste materials removed from site. The sheet also identifies how much materials went for recycling and how much went to landfill.

3.0 Designing to Minimise Waste

Designers have a major influence on how much waste is created. To minimise waste during construction, it is important to ensure that the drawings and specifications are clear and accurate to avoid rework later. The project manager can make sure the design allows for a logical sequence of construction.

It is also important to discuss with the client the reasons for waste minimisation before the construction started, and encourage them to support the project in good resource management.

4.0 Minimising Waste during Construction

4.1 Before project stared

Develop a simple waste management plan, the plan will show whose responsible it is to minimise waste and what their roles are. The plan will also show the estimation amounts and the types of waste that will be produced daily, and what will happen to each type of waste, categorise what types of waste will be reused or recycled, where will the materials be stored in, and most importantly set targets and compare result at the end of each week.

Ensure that everyone on site is aware of the importance of waste minimisation and understand how it will be managed. Put lists of materials that can be reused or recycled up on a site noticeboard and make sure everyone on site is aware of it.

4.2 Ordering/obtaining materials

The contractor should plan for the right delivery time to reduce the risk of damage while the material is being stored on site. Plan before order to ensure the right amount of materials are ordered and ask suppliers to make the components to the right size to minimise cutting on site if possible.

4.3 Storing and using materials

The materials will be stored properly to ensure that they are protected from the weather and other source of potential damage. Places for leftover concrete and bricks will be provided on site so they can be reused. And always keep the site clean and tidy to make it easier to find materials and also to keep it safe.

4.4 Preventing rework

Redo the work can cost unnecessary money and rework can be reduced by sequencing the work effectively and monitor the quality of work as work proceeds by having a good quality control system in place. It is also important to make sure everyone respect other's work and protect the finished work by isolating the finished work.

5.0 Re-use and Recycling

5.1 Materials to re-use or recycle from construction site

Steel (reinforcing, wire, containers etc);

Concrete (can be recycled as base coarse in driveways and footpaths/use waste to fix small defects);

Paper and cardboard (can be used for materials wrapping or reprocess them as new paper product by purification);

Timber (re-use off cuts for noggins and spacers, clean useable lengths are taken to the next job, etc);


Masonry (recycle damaged bricks in areas where they will not be seen);

Plastic - Plastic wastes are best possible for recycling if they are collected separately and cleaned and not mixed with other plastic or components (may be recycled and used in products designed for the utilization of recycled plastic, such as roof and floor, cable ducting, PVC window noise barrier and so on).

Reuse can be difficult because sometimes it is difficult to transfer materials to another job due to change in shape or for different purposes, and sometimes the workers just can't take that many tonnes of materials because of the volume of construction wastes. For the materials that can't be reused on site, they can be recycled. A hauler will be hired and the garbage collection company will have the opportunity to help to recycle, or maybe haul it by the appointed person to a legally permitted disposal site.

5.2 Components that can be readily reused

Timber such as hardwood flooring;

Thermal insulation;


Roof cladding;

Clay and concrete roof tiles;

Doors and windows (metals, woods, aluminium, glass, hardware etc);

Linings and finishing (skirtings, cornices, joinery etc);

Electrical fittings (switches, light fittings, thermostats);

Plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, baths, service equipment,);

Thermal insulation (wool or polyester, insulation, polystyrene rigid insulation) ;

Carpet/carpet tiles;

Scaffolding clamp (can be reuse again instead of throwing them after use).

It is very important to check the quality of the reused or recycled materials because much serious problems can be found later if the materials are damaged or used inappropriately.

5.3 Waste Hierarchy

The construction waste hierarchy

The hierarchy above shows that reducing waste is the ideal approach because the right amount of materials is used. But it is not always possible because sometimes plasterboard off cuts, some bits of timber and some half bricks or blocks will not be usable. Disposal is at the bottom of the hierarchy, where all the values are taken from the waste stream and it is then disposed of in landfill. However it may cost more because modern law restricts what can be landfilled.

6.0 Transportation of Materials

During construction an attempt will be made to keep all waste products in separate piles. A bobcat will used to load a hydraulic tipping trailer and takes it to various disposal sites. There will be a number of large waste bins all around the site for large materials such as timber, bricks, cardboard and so on. The bins will be sorted on the types of waste, for example steel only, general only, etc. The bins will be emptied at the end of each day and transported to the landfill or recycle facility depending on the type materials. All the bins will be labelled so there won't be any mistake. 2 wheelie bins will also be provided on site for general rubbish, for example lunch wrappers, drinks, etc.

Materials will be transported to the bins via dump truck. Heavy materials such as structural steel or large amount of bricks will be lift via excavator with grapple attachment. The truck can access to the site via the front of the site with a traffic controller control the traffic. Big truck may access to the site via the rear of the site.

Dump truck used to transport waste from work place to the waste collection point.

The waste materials will then be transported via waste hauling truck to landfill or recycle facilities.

However transportation of waste will always be an issue because of the increases in the number of polluting vehicles on road creating air and noise pollution congestion and all other problems relating to road transport. Therefore the most favourable option is to reduce the amount of waste produced, reuse materials on site, or to transport the waste in large amount to reduce the trips.

Sorting facilities on site making recycling on-site an easy option

for workers.