The Construction Industry Produces Waste Construction Essay

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The construction industry produces 32% of all waste in the UK. (Defra, 2006) The Government has put in place a Sustainable Construction Strategy, the target by 2012 is to reduce the amount of waste by 50%. Already, the Government has made moves to drive this figure down by introducing Landfill Tax and mandatory Site Waste Management Plans. SWMPs involve reducing the amount of waste created and deal with any waste that is produced by either recycling or reusing.


The construction industry has a major impact on the environment, in terms of the resources it consumes, and the waste it produces. The industry is responsible for producing a variety of different wastes, which account to 32% of waste that the UK sends to landfill. (Defra, 2006) This is equal to 1.7 million tonnes of construction, demolition and excavation waste every year. (Defra, 2008) It has been suggested that 90 million tonnes of this waste would be suitable for reusing within the construction industry. (Sustainable Build, 2009)

Sustainable Construction Strategy.

The Government has produced a strategy to prevent any further damag to the environment. This is called the Sustainable Construction Practice Strategy. This policy sets out the guidelines in all areas of the industry. The target for waste is to reduce the waste sent to landfill by 50% at the year ending 2012. (Wrap, 2009) This is an achievable target, enabling the reduction of the industry's impact on the environment.

To enable the industry to reduce the 1.7 million tonnes of construction waste, changes in the following areas are to be implimented: SWMP, recycling, reduction and reuse. (Defra, 2008)


Once waste has been produced, the best method of managing it is through reuse, either on the existing site, or a nearby site. Each major construction material has a reuse value, which is valuable to any project. Rubble and soil can be used for landscaping, while masonry materials can be used in the construction of driveways or used as a hardcore for many projects. During demolition or refurbishment projects, materials that are no longer required for that building can be sold.


Roughly, every item of construction and demolition waste is capable of being recycled. The recycled resources can subsequently be used for landscaping and within the infrastructure industry. Resources that can be recycled need to be recognized within the build process, and segregated for easy storage. Recycling is the division of waste materials, and this process happens during demolition, construction and remodelling of a building.

Landfill Tax Levy is a government measure to financially encourage businesses to change the way that waste is dealt with. There is also a landfill directive which has brought extra costs via landfill operators, again, extra costs that the construction industry incorporates encourages less waste to landfil.


Throughout the design phase the source of waste can be acknowledged, eliminated and reduced. By using standard size building components, in addition to excellent calculation will enable over ordering, which in turn will prevent waste. Just in time delivery strategies will be capable of futher reducing waste created by inappropriate storage and weather damage. If some materials were salvaged from demolition sites, this would reduce waste.

Reducing waste can begin in the manufacture phase, via reducing packaging. Modern methods of construction is constructing off-site, which itself prevents a lot of waste from being produced. Any reduction in on-site concreting leads to waste reduction. Precasting and prefabrication offers signifiant opportunities for the reduction of waste. Changing the design during the build, over ordering if it is cheaper for larger quantities and any mistakes that are made cost the environment.

Site Waste Management Plan.

From April 2008, there has been a legal requirement in England that every construction project valued over £300,000 has to have a site waste management plan. (Office for Public Sector Information, 2008) The regulations aim to increase the amount of construction, excavation and demolition waste that is recovered, reused and recycled and improve materials resources and efficiency. The plan will identify the different wastes that each stage of a project produces using data sheets. This will enable the identity of what materials, size and amont and whether they will be recycled, reused or disposed of. There are legal responsibilties that have to be complied with.

The Plasterboard Agreement is a voluntary agreement that is signed up to by plasterboard manuafacturers. The agreement is a Government and industry measure to significantly reduce the amount of plasterboard waste sent to landfill. The manufacturers reuse and recycle the plasterboard that comes from site, and have their production operations waste.


Due to the Government's Sustainable Construction Policy, construction companies and relevant businesses are aware of the damage they are doing to the environment. The requirements that have been set within the new codes and standards challenge the construction industy to face up to the environmental problem. Waste minimisation and awareness saves companies' money and helps protect the environment.

Preventing waste going to landfill requires carefull planing during the design, build and occupancy phases. Right from the thought process of a new building, every aspect must be given great consideration to the potential damage to the environment. At the design stage, the opportunity to reduce landfill waste is enormous, as the design will take into account of the whole life of the building. If there are any changes to the design and materials used from the original design, all savings of waste will jeapodised. Any demolition waste needs to be recycled appropriately before construction commences, which could also save the company enormous amounts of money on the materials required for the new build.

Using new and primary materials with appropriate recycled, reusable and reclaimed materials is the future within the industy and the natural environment. During construction projects over £300,000 there has to be a detailed waste minimisation strategy, commonly referred to as a Site Waste Management Plan. (Defra 2008)


Government have clearly set targets that everyone must adhere to. To reach these targets, there are certain phases that the construction industry are required to follow. The construction industry now has objectives; these are to reduce the amount of waste being produced, to be able to deal with appropriately by either reusing or recycling any construction materials that are no longer required at the site.