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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)
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.
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 amount and whether they will be recycled, reused or disposed of. There are legal responsibilities that have to be complied with.
The Plasterboard Agreement is a voluntary agreement that is signed up to by plasterboard manufacturers. 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.
Preventing waste going to landfill requires careful planning 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 jeopardised. 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 industry 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.