Can you guess the volume of construction waste generated annually by construction projects worldwide? What about the U.S. alone? According to a report from Construction and Demolition Recycling in 2018, the world’s yearly volume of solid waste will nearly double to 2.2 billion tons by the end of 2025. Construction waste makes up more than half of overall waste generated annually. This includes materials such as wood, shingles, asphalt, concrete, and metal.
Additionally, construction continues to be costly. In August, construction input prices increased by 0.6 percent from July according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index. Nonresidential construction input prices were up 0.3 percent for September.
Much of this waste can be recycled or reused; however, sometimes after a long day of labor, sustainability, and care for the environment can be overlooked. That said, sustainable building practices are growing in popularity and builders are finding competitive advantages in saving on material costs or cutting costs associated with waste. Below are five strategies to reduce waste on your job site.
Work with manufacturers to minimize packaging around products such as plastic, cardboard, and paper to reduce waste that will end up in your dumpster. Approximately 10-12 percent of a construction project’s waste comes from cardboard.
How to Reduce
Purchase materials in bulk instead of individual packages.
Use returnable containers and packaging materials.
Reuse non-returnable containers. You can hold materials in tubs, barrels, and buckets.
Donate non-returnable containers to community organizations if you aren’t using them.
Reuse and Recycle
Place recycling bins on the job site, or at the end of the day, sort materials into a reuse pile instead of throwing everything into the dumpster. This not only helps the environment but will help lower transportation and landfill costs.
You can recycle these materials at a construction and demolition (C&D) recycling facility if one is available in your market, and rates are typically competitive with landfill tipping fees. Lastly, try to sell unused materials back to the supplier.
Deconstruction Instead of Demolition
Deconstruction is the process of selectively disassembling a building piece by piece to preserve materials and eliminate waste. The salvaged materials can be reused and transformed into valuable resources that can be sold to be used on future construction projects. Additionally, donated materials can be used as tax write-offs.
The demolition process is similar to that of deconstruction in its removal of high-value, reusable materials. However, the main difference is there is a lower chance of preserving materials through demolition because the process is focused on speed.
Proper Material Storage
Make sure that your products are stored away from the sun and water. Covering your materials will help prevent having to buy new supplies as a result of tossing rotten ones due to degradation from the elements. Secondly, properly storing your materials will avoid theft and the costs associated with replacement.
Plan Your Materials Ahead of Construction
Planning and proper organization means fewer mistakes and fewer materials being wasted on the job site. You can reduce labor and product costs by properly measuring and ordering the right sizes of materials – this prevents cutting or altering larger-sized products. If you have scraps from cutting materials down, try to reuse them. For example, small pieces of wood can be shredded down into mulch if they’re not stained or painted. A plan that includes the following would help reduce waste disposal:
Account for potential waste
Supply the job site with recycling, compost, and waste bins
Calculate the exact amount of materials and order only what is needed
Identify recyclable materials
Educate workers on sorting waste as it’s produced
The price of dumping materials is becoming more significant to builders as the costs of materials continue to increase. The less you throw away, and the more you reuse, the less money you spend on construction waste disposal. Consider these five ways to save money and the environment by reducing construction waste on your next build.
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