How to Deal with Construction Waste

Did you know that one of the more important aspects of sustainable buildings is responsible waste management? What does this mean? Within the context of managing waste, this simply refers to the elimination of waste and whenever possible, minimizing it and reusing the materials to ensure its reduction. What are the essentials of construction waste management?

Defining Construction Waste

Are old kitchens or old bathrooms scheduled for disposal part of construction waste? How about old tiles and bricks? Construction waste in essence describes any matter, substance, or thing that is produced as a result of the construction work and subsequently abandoned. It does not matter if the materials have been stockpiled or processed before it has been abandoned.

Construction waste is a mixture of the excess materials that are the product of excavation, construction, site clearance, demolition, road works, refurbishment, and renovation. As much as 90% of this type of waste are considered inert and are defined as public fill.

What constitutes public fill? This includes rubble, earth, debris, and concrete that are suitable for use in site formation or land reclamation. Proper storage of asphalt, concrete, and all types of metal and steel may qualify for recycling so that it can be put to good use in construction projects.

Other non-inert materials found in construction waste can include timber and timber flooring, bamboo, packaging waste, vegetation, and other organic substances. Compared to public fill, these types of waste cannot be used for land reclamation, but may be subjected to recovery and recycling.

Disposal Problem

Construction waste disposal of public fill is normally done at public filing areas and sorting facilities. This has been the normal road taken for management of construction waste. To achieve sustainable development, relying on reclamation for the acceptance of inert waste no longer becomes feasible. Reuse and recycling are being promoted by the government as a viable way of reducing the amount of construction waste.

There is still a large amount of waste material that needs to be disposed in either a public fill facility or in landfills. The building waste disposal problem faced today is in the form of diminishing landfill spaces and reclamation sites. In fact, many of the public fill areas will be full capacity very soon. It is estimated that about 25% of the total waste taken in by landfills are mixed construction waste.

So what happens now? If public fill capacities are no longer sufficient, more public fill will be converted into landfills. What does this mean? The life expectancy of landfills will be shortened.

Construction Waste Management

Federal regulations in the United States make it lawful for majority of demolition and construction waste to be disposed of in landfills. There are localities wherein all or part of the waste stream generated by construction and demolition are illegally deposited in land or natural drainages; including water. This goes against common regulations intended to protect business, environment, and human health.

Significant amounts of construction related garbage like window frames for example are legally disposed in solid waste landfills every year. Some of the waste are eliminated from the waste stream using a process known as diversion.

What is diversion? This is diverting of materials that are sorted and eventually recycled or possibly even reused. Building waste removal products pose significant influence on the macroeconomic conditions that impact consumption trends as well as anthropogenic and natural risks. The awareness of the construction industry of the issues surrounding disposal and reuse has led to considerable reduction of the amount of waste materials that are sent to landfills.

There are many opportunities that can lead to the substantial recovery and reduction of doors and other renovation waste removal products that would have possibly ended up in disposal facilities. Becoming educated of the issues like effective strategies for the separation of identified waste, beneficial reuse, and promotion of economically sound processes of reducing waste will go a long way in ensuring more favorable results.

Promoting awareness in both the industry and the general public about these disposal issues will eventually lead to a more stable and business-friendly environment with improved collection, processing, and reuse of waste. Value can be created by returning the waste back into the manufacturing process and looking for better ways to incorporate the recycled materials into new products. Putting priority on the reduction of construction waste can be seen as part of efficient practices in jobsites.

Eliminate, Minimize, Reuse

What does effective building waste management entail? On the onset, it would need coordinated action from government, business, and professional groups. Coordinated action combined with best management practices serve best the interest of the public in terms of health and welfare.

It would be challenging to achieve or even sustain a stable market for recovered materials, for carpet removal and disposal for example, without these coordinated actions. This means that expecting an improvement in industry practices would be out of the question as well. There is no denying that management of construction waste can be rather expensive. But, with a bit of common sense leaning towards reduction, reuse, and recycling, efficient elimination and minimization of waste can be done.

To eliminate waste would require not only persistence and knowledge, but also creativity in dealing with available businesses and markets. Many of the generated waste materials coming from construction processes can even be eliminated like in the case of modular metal form systems that can be unmounted and reused for other projects can lead to the elimination of wood waste. The result is a substantial impact on the environment including human health.

You can even effectively minimize construction waste by choosing products based on the design and manufacturing process. Choosing ones with minimal packaging can be a good way to start. Considering the proper selection and use of recyclable products and materials will open up new potentials for minimizing building waste.

Not all waste materials can be reused, but some can be. Doors, windows, and even window frames that are in good condition can be resold as a substitute for new products. Donating reusable products for other projects can be very beneficial.

Products and materials that do not offer a reliable and efficient way of being reused can be collected. This puts in focus the importance of proper management without necessarily considering the lowest cost possible.

These are effective and efficient ways that can help businesses to deal with construction waste to benefit every community.

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