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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published on: September 13, 2017
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1.1 Summary

In general waste occurs when people utilize the earths’ natural resources and do not go about it in an efficient manner, hence leaving off remains that have little or no value. It is described as anything that has no value or has useless remains. (White et al. 1995).

Due to this little or no value of these remains, a lot of waste has been generated since mankind has roamed the earth. Things got even worse as a result of the gradual increase of the human population, more waste is produced hence the need for waste management. The management of waste has come to the attention of governments, designers and the general public alike, with the population gradually increasing, this also goes hand in hand with waste also increasing. The question that begs to be asked is where will all this waste go, as I will mention later on that waste management was only considered because of economic reasons. However now it has come to peoples attention about the future scarcity of natural resources and the harm waste does to the environment.

1.2 Introduction

In this dissertation, I will try to explain the issues of waste management in the construction industry as a whole. The research highlights the obvious dangers the construction industry faces from the excess of material waste, construction goes hand in hand with materials. That is you require materials in order to build, but the issue is that not all the materials on site is utilized in the building, some just are not used. This is due to the fact that sometimes there is excess materials, due to over estimating or the remainders from used materials, like off cuts and so on.

The material waste is discussed thoroughly in this dissertation, with the aid of books and the internet simultaneously been utilized. As the dissertation is broken down into segments, I have mentioned the measures of reducing construction waste, in the next segment, I’ve discussed the complex issues that may occur when you try implementing certain measures. From what I have come to realize from the research, is that consequently the material waste on site cuts into the contractors profits, this is due to the fact that there are costs associated with the disposal of waste, and in some cases it could be quite dare. I arrived at this conclusion when I considered the transportation and storage material waste, also the non re-clamation and so on. With this said, I have extensively discussed the severe lack of knowledge and poor site waste management plans in the dissertation. Finally I argued that a good site waste management plan is feasible in the construction industry, also mentioning that to have people on board, incentives could be introduced to encourage the workmen to be more efficient in handling the building materials.

1.3 How I’m I Going About Getting The Information I Require For My Research

After choosing the title, waste management in construction for my essay, I need to gather the necessary information relevant for my research, to be precise, I needed to get a title that would tell the topic of the story and the purpose in writing it. I would focus on the topic and refer to it often in the essay as this will aid me to focus and not deviate from the topic.

Research, this is the first stage about the essay, by doing this I’m making myself an expert on the topic, how I’m going to go about with this research is detailed in the paragraphs below.

Analysis, after the research, I will have to analyze the arguments I’m reading from, clearly define the claims, write out the reasons and evidences.

Brainstorming, that is by asking myself a lot of questions and answering them.

After all the analyzing, researches and brainstorming, I should develop an in depth knowledge of what I am going to write about, in other words, I should be equipped enough to convert all the information gathered into the proposed dissertation.

1.4 Extent of Material Wastage in the Construction Industry

Why is it necessary to have waste management in the Construction industry?

It is well documented that the United Kingdom construction industry is the biggest consumer of natural resources. As a result it generates more than one third of the country’s waste, it is estimated at about 400 million tonnes of material waste is generated by the industry per annum, and from this figure only half of the waste material is recycled or reused. Every year, nearly 60 tonnes of material waste from the industry is sent to land fill sites, using building materials in a more efficient way will result to a significant reduction in the pollution of the environment. It will also minimize the demand for more landfill and deforestation of the natural environment, also adding to the economic efficiency of the sector and the country as a whole.

Major improvements in materials efficiency are possible, without increasing cost, by:

• Minimising the overall creation of waste resulting from, over-ordering or inefficient design;

• Reducing the quantity of material sent to landfill during the construction process through effective waste management;

• Recycling materials already on the construction site into the new construction project; and

• Using more recycled materials and mainstream products with higher recycled content, including recycled content (such as glass and plastic) not necessarily sourced from construction and demolition waste.

Applying these points will help the industry to achieve good or best practice in resource efficiency, the industry is increasingly trying to set targets for good practice waste minimization and management (WMM) and utilizing building materials that are highly recyclable. The industry views this action plan as simple and doable, as it makes a quick and effective impact, and can be easily incorporated within the sustainability action plan.

It was argued by (Meadows et al..1972) that the exploitation of the natural resources of the earth could not go on indefinitely, they emphasized that the resources will eventually run out if due care is not practiced. This however was opposed by (Meyers and Simon 1994) in (Beckman, 1995; UNDP, 1998;UNDESA,1999), they stated that the fact that proven reserves are defined as reserves that could be extracted with modern day technology and price structures. They backed it up by saying modern technology has increased the availability of natural resources and it also does it at a lower extraction cost than before.

Meadows, D. Randers, J. Meadows, D (1972). Limits to Growth. United States of America: Universe Books. p2-6.

Waste disposal does not just end at the contractor employing a waste disposal firm to remove the skips from the sites, but it goes much deeper than that. How? The additional costs, that is like the duration it takes on site sorting, handling and managing waste, the cost of the materials that have been wasted, also voids in the skips fro poor packing, resulting in unnecessary reordering of extra skips, and I believe this problem is very difficult to quantify.

Yearly the costs of landfill tax, disposal fees and taxes and levies increases, this is mainly done with the argument that it will discourage carelessness from the contractors side, as the hardest way to come down on firms is to interfere with their finances.

Now considering how expensive it is to dispose of waste, it is only logical that, to produce less waste
is only more beneficial for the contractor as it will help in maintaining the profits as I briefly touched on in the first segment.

The Amount of Waste Materials Generated

Waste management came about as a social necessity, this was due to the link between the public health and the natural environment was identified, it was because of this that early waste management efforts were triggered. This led to legislation being introduced to improve the way that waste material was dealt with (Foxall 2003, Williams 1998).

There are three main sectors in the United Kingdom that generate waste, and they are the construction and demolition sector, commercial and industrial and local authority collected waste. Construction generated about 86.9 million tones of waste in 2008 of which 62% was recovered or in other words recycled and the other 26% was sent to landfill, and this is according to a study done by the national archives. The construction industry has a significant impact on the environment, this is due to the fact that it consumes a lot of resources and also by doing so naturally has a lot of waste. Our industry is liable for producing different types of waste, and this varies from the stages of the construction process, type of construction and the on site practices. It is estimated that over 90% of non energy minerals extracted in the country is supplied to the industry together with materials, and as I mentioned earlier over 85 million tones of construction and demolition waste is produced in the UK. From the research I have done it is clear that the construction and demolition sector generates far more waste than its rivals.

Winkler, G (2010). Recycling Construction and Demolition Waste. United States of America: McGraw Hill. p1-4.

1.5 Resources Facilitating Effective Waste Management

Buying and storage of materials

• Try ordering more accurately.

• Order materials that you are going to use as soon as they arrive, this is to avoid storage issues and loss or theft of materials.

• Consider the source of materials, that is, is the supplier certified with environmental standards?

• Verify if the packaging of the materials delivered can be reduced or recycled.

• Don’t accept damaged or excess deliveries.

• Ensure proper storage facilities.

• To avoid pollution, liquids are to be stored away from drains and so on.

Site Activities

• Ensure the site is clean and tidy to avoid material waste or losses.

• Consider the use of reclaimed and recycled construction materials that meet the materials specification.

• Recycle suitable spoil, demolition materials and surplus construction materials arising from on site works to minimize the need to transport materials off site.

Training and Awareness

• Provide on site training for workers and ensure that good practice awareness is promoted on toolbox talks and site inductions.

Waste Segregation

• Use different types of skips for different waste materials, like having separate skips for wood, metals and inert and mix materials.

Following the Law

• Fill in the waste transfer notes before and waste leaves the site.

• Before carrying the waste away, they should show a waste carriers registration certificate.

• Make sure that the waste taken from site is disposed of lawfully, that is, in legit licensed sites.

• Complete notification for hazardous waste to SEPA.

Winkler, G (2010). Recycling Construction and Demolition Waste. USA: McGraw Hill. p112-113.

1.6 Primary Sources and Origins of Material Waste

Typical waste generators in the construction and demolition sectors are, new construction sites, road repairs, renovation sites and demolition of buildings. It is generally wood, steel, rubble and concrete that comes from these sites.

The primary sources of material waste comes are lack of consideration in the pre construction phase, during the designing, estimating and purchasing.


During this phase remember to use materials that reduce waste, mainly,

• Building for deconstruction, bear this is mind so as any future changes, the whole structure can be taken apart and reused and recycled easily.

• Precise estimating and the integration of modular components.

• Considering standard material sizes during design stage.

• Ensuring that once the building is up and running, it generates minimal waste, easily maintained and accessible for waste and recycling collectors.

Estimating and Purchasing

• Over estimating is another factor to be avoided, some estimators have the habit of over estimating, thinking that is better than under estimating. At least when you under estimate nothing is wasted and you can always order the remaining materials to finish off.

• Procurement, by specifying to suppliers your exact requirements, may help reduce waste.

• Consider buying environmentally improved materials, mainly materials that are manufactured from recycled materials.

Off Site Activities

Buying materials manufactured off site reduces waste significantly, this is because it is built in factory conditions designed purposefully for that, also the people making it are well-trained personnel.

On Site Activities

• Monitor delivery and storage of materials, provide storage arrangements to protect against weather damages.

• Unnecessary packaging should be avoided by notifying your supplier to avoid over packaging materials, leaving you with unwanted wrappings.

• Use different types of skips for different waste materials, like having separate skips for wood, metals and inert and mix materials.

• Unavoidable waste materials should be disposed of safely, these are materials that cannot be recovered, reused or recycled.

1.7 Construction Processes That Produce The Maximum Amount of Waste

The source of waste in construction varies according to the construction phase, the method of construction and the type of building being built. It is known that while putting on the roof, there will be insulation and roof tile waste, also during painting, plastering and finishing a lot of waste is produced in the form of rubble. Throughout the building process, there will be a lot of waste generated while:

• Concreting: As concrete is poured and used, a lot of excess is available. Sometimes this is put to use in other parts of the building, but in most instances, it is normally thrown away as waste.

• Dry Wall: During this process, the plaster boards been used are cut to size sometimes, and these off cuts are usually not reusable and often are found in the skips as waste material.

• Insulation: The kingspan and the other various insulation materials are cut to size to fit, and as a result, these off cuts from the whole sheets are also put in the skips as waste.

• Tiling: Same goes here as well, off cuts and damaged tiles are also another form of material waste.

• Carpet and Vinyl floors: While finishing the interior, carpets and vinyl floors are brought in, a large amount from this as well ends up as waste.

• Cardboard: As all these materials are brought in from the suppliers, nearly all of it is wrapped in some way, either with plastic or cardboard wrapping, and this also is additional waste.

• Bricks: While doing the brick work, damaged bricks and leftovers are a very common type of waste material found on site.

• Metals: Steel and other forms of metal are used on site during the construction stage, here again, a lot of waste occurs when they are cut to size for use.

• Wood and Glass: These materials are used on the site, also damaged and unused ones create more waste materials during the construction process.

Most of the waste materials I have mentioned above are mostly a result of over ordering due to over estimating or damages from transportation, mishandling, improper storage or the weather. Cardboard and plastic materials often are a product of unnecessary packaging of materials.

1.8 Mechanisms For Reducing Material Wastage For The Construction Industry

Types of Construction Waste

Materials and Products Typically Benign:

• Wood

• Concrete

• Gravel, aggregate, stone and rock

• Masonry and rubble

• Metals (ferrous and non Ferrous)

• Plastic

• Glass

• Doors and windows

• Asphaltic roofs

• Gypsum board

• Cardboard and paper

• Plumbing fixtures and

• Electrical equipment

Measures to Reduce Construction Waste

Responsible waste management is a vital aspect of sustainable construction, in this context, waste management simply refers to waste elimination whenever possible during the design and construction stages. That is minimizing waste where feasible, also making use of materials that might be seen as waste in a careless construction environment.

Waste minimization strategies have to be put in place in order to minimize the material waste in construction, one has to carefully manage and monitor the various waste streams during the construction phase. One has to carefully layout a thorough plan as early as the design, build and occupancy phases. This is done to see to it that the project is successful, effective and in compliance with building regulations.

To deal with waste effectively, one has to utilize the three main basic strategies, and these are reduce, reuse and recycle. Waste prevention can be addressed by identifying the possible waste streams quickly during the build process, by doing so early on, you could cater for their minimization. During the design, it has to be included that the doors and windows are standard sizes to avoid more waste, also anticipating for deconstruction, hence the use of recyclable and reusable materials. Over ordering is another factor that highly contributes to the waste on site, it is estimated that over 13 million tones of new build materials been discarded as waste yearly in the UK.

This is where it is vital that an effective form of communication is developed between the building professionals, as this will ensure that exact measurements are done to avoid wastage. Also I mentioned earlier that ensuring just in time deliveries from the suppliers could further reduce waste created from inadequate storage and inclement weather.

While building, producing waste is inevitable, but the best practice to adopt is to reuse these materials on site or a near by existing site. Since the materials I have suggested to use during construction are materials that are reusable or recyclable, this means that these materials can be usefully reclaimed, furthermore they could be sold to offset the cost of the building project. Recycling is another type of strategy, all recyclable materials should be segregated into different skips, making them accessible for collection and transfer by the recycling contractors.

Winkler, G (2010). Recycling Construction and Demolition Waste. . USA: McGraw Hill. p46.

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