Besides being one of the most profitable industries globally, the construction industry comes with its set of challenges such as management of waste. Waste management is a core concern in this industry with many constructing companies in pursuit of sustainable building. Unlawful disposal of construction waste and debris on open land leads to degradation of the environment which is against the regulations set for the protection of human health and the environment. Achieving responsible waste management involves abolishing waste as much as possible, reducing waste where it is feasible, applying a reliable design, recycling or reusing materials without necessarily turning them to waste.
Types of Waste Found in Construction Sites
Construction waste can be classified to three categories which are demolition debris from older buildings, waste left from new construction and debris from civil works that are in large scales from example, highway road construction. The types of waste commonly found on construction sites also include:
- Building materials
Construction can involve remodeling, demolition and restoration of buildings which lead to the production of waste materials such as electric wiring, wood, nails, plaster, and packaging of building materials, scrap metals, cement, and damaged bricks among others. In most instances, these materials may be damaged, or whole hence can be recycled or reused as the building works going on.
- Hazardous waste
During construction, demolition and remodelling may lead to the production of some dangerous waste that if left exposed, can be an environmental hazard. Such wastes require specific disposal methods as per the regulations set by a given state which in most cases are very strict. Some of the most encountered hazardous material includes asbestos, asphalt, mercury, lead, aerosol cans, paint thinners, paint solvents, plaster boards and fluorescent bulbs.
- Dredging waste
When a site is selected for construction, clearing out any objects or features that may impede creation is carried out. The materials removed are known as dredging materials that in the long run get displaced. These include trees, dirt, rubble, soil, old structures, rocks and tree stumps. In some cases, these materials can be recycled or reused depending on their state.
Best waste management tips for a construction industry that you can apply
Managing waste can be daunting and expensive, but leaving it unattended or opting to break the state rules can bring further unexpected consequences. Some simple steps can be followed in a construction site to achieve effective elimination, minimisation and proper handling of waste materials on site.
- Reduce Construction Materials
Much of the materials used for construction such as wood, plastic, metal, plastics among others can be reduced upon purchasing. Having a proper estimation plan before the construction starts will help determine the appropriate amount of products to get the job done. Getting just enough will allow optimal use of these materials, reduce costs that would be incurred for purchasing and in the long run, reduce production of waste.
- Segregating waste
Separation and storing of waste is a crucial concern in waste management. Segregation can be applied through;
- Introducing a safe on-site waste storage area which is labelled appropriately wheelie bins and containers for separating waste produced.
- Engaging site workers in training on how to divide the leftovers, practising a safe culture.
- Use mini crushers and screeners for materials such as leftover blocks and bricks.
- Hire a team, part-time or full-time to carry out monitoring and management of waste.
- Measure the waste produced
Having an idea of the amount of unwanted material produced on site allows you to manage your trash properly. This can also help determine what part of the construction is producing an excess percentage of waste which leads to taking measurements of the optimal use of materials where necessary.
- Consider food waste and bottled water
Considering that plastics are one of the materials leading to environmental degradation, changing to use of tapped water on site can be useful. This allows workers to use glasses to drink water rather than continuous purchasing of bottled water. The leftovers produced from the employee break rooms after meals can also be segregated and placed for food recycling companies.
- Maximizing the potential of the leftovers
This is where the recycling and reusing process comes in mind. Not all waste should be disposed. Some can prove to be useful in the construction process. For maximum use of waste, find out the types of products that can be reused or recycled or resold, for example, wood can be used for other purposes in the future hence can be recovered, scrap metals can be collected and sold to companies that manage such materials.
You can also reuse materials which will lead to cost reduction and reduction of waste. Instead of buying new products, you can reuse the leftovers giving them an original purpose and proving them useful on site.
- Proper facility design
On-site, the contractor can contribute significantly to waste reduction and management through the choice of building technique, materials, building procedures and sequences to be used. The contractor can;
- Employ the use of one material for several functions rather than different materials to perform one task.
- Fewer materials can be used when there is an efficient use of area and volume.
- Using standard materials and product dimensions to reduce cuttings which lead to concentration of scraps
- Selecting materials that do not require adhesive as it leads to using of containers and packaging waste upon completion of construction.
- Choosing materials that are not prone to destruction, environmental exposure or destruction which may lead to potential misuse.
Management of building-related waste should is mandatory to practice sustainable development. Being in collaboration with professional groups such as waste collection companies, the government and businesses for coordination on waste management often gives the best results and besides a win-win opportunity. Coming up with a reliable waste management plan should make the construction work to be efficient.
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