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How to Reduce Construction site waste ?

by Sanyam on November 15, 2021

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Tons of waste material is produced on construction sites, that can be treated effectively to reduce the impact on the environment. India produces approximately 150 million tonnes of construction and demolition(C&D) waste annually according to the Building Material Promotional Council and according to the Centre for Science and Environment based in New Delhi, a non-profit organization, India recycles a meager 1% of its C&D waste. The unofficial C&D waste being produced in the country can be approximated to about 3-5 times the official numbers. Along with the construction companies, the authorities who are responsible for enforcing laws and regulations to reduce the construction waste or treat them more effectively must take appropriate actions to reduce the massive amount of waste material being generated on construction sites and take steps to dispose of it properly. The majority of the waste material can be recycled or even reused, but if left untreated may have a negative impact on the environment, and in the end, environmental protection and sustainability might be at risk. It’s still not too late to act as responsible caretakers of the environment, in order to promote and adopt methods that will result in less waste being generated on construction sites.

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The reduction of waste on construction sites by adopting efficient waste material management practices will not only be good for the environment but also cost and time-efficient for the project owner. Being environmentally aware, responsible, and sustainable also improves a firm’s reputation in the construction industry to acquire more projects, as the majority of the clients nowadays demand environment-friendly construction procedures. Developing or adopting and implementing an active waste management plan sets up a solid framework that assists not only in considerably reducing construction sites waste but also maintains a strong legal standing.

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Some of the basic reasons to adopt a waste management plan on construction sites can be:

  • Ecological Impact is Reduced-When less waste material is generated on a construction site or the waste generated is treated appropriately and can be recycled or reused for any other task on the same project or some other project, the load on landfills is reduced where the excess waste material will only lead to wasting of valuable spaces, increased environmental clutter and subsequent leakage of harmful substances into the soil or groundwater. More and more construction sites waste needs to be diverted towards recycling and reusing options available that can encourage construction companies to be more environmentally aware and responsible.
  • Subsequent lowering of Costs-Efficient waste management plans can reduce the cost of the entire project by saving on supplies and generating economic benefits from spare or used materials. A waste management plan helps in reducing the cost and time being invested in the movement of construction waste material across the project site. Instead of buying new supplies, materials can be either reused or recycled to be used as per requirements. The materials that have already been purchased and not being used can be resold to bring in extra funds.
  • Adherence to Regulations-To comply with the various regulations and laws that have been set by the respective authorities, construction waste material must be managed and treated responsibly in order to impact the environment to a minimum possible. Hazardous construction waste has to be disposed of legally in a restricted manner as regulated by the government. Before disposing of specific construction waste types, they have to be treated to a minimum extent to which it may not harm the environment.
  • Gaining trust and confidence-When a construction project is accomplished by engaging in proactive and safe waste management practices such as recycling and reusing, the company’s brand value is greatly enhanced and clients are eager and more than happy to be working with such a responsible company.

How to reduce Construction Sites Waste

In order to reduce construction waste material on project sites and adopt sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact, here are some tips:

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  1. Waste Minimization at the Planning and Initiation Stage-Waste material minimization methods must be incorporated at the beginning of the project during the planning stage itself, reducing source reduction, i.e., planning to eliminate waste even before it is generated. When the materials that are required during a construction project are estimated more accurately then more money is saved on the cost of materials and less waste material is generated on the project’s completion.

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During the planning stage, efficient waste management techniques should be used such as identifying the location from where waste generated is predicted to be the highest, areas where installation of recycling bins will be most effective, instances where non-recyclable materials can be replaced by recyclable ones, the overall quantity of material that will be used and educating contractors and employees about suitable waste material segregating and disposal methods.

  1. Vendors and Vending Methods-Also to enhance sustainability through materials usage and waste management methods, the vendors should be selected based on their commitment to environmental protection who support construction waste management practices and can supply recyclable or recycled materials. Along with responsible vendors, environmentally aware partners must also be chosen who can assist in the timely waste material treatment of the construction site waste during and after the project as well. The contractor, as well as the supplier, should promote supplies with minimal packaging, especially plastic and cardboard packaging because this excess packaging waste material needs to be disposed of ultimately.
  2. Avoid Demolishing Adopt Deconstructing-Deconstructing is a new reuse method or strategy that is adopted in place of demolishing to reduce waste and effectively salvage more materials for reuse or recycling.

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Deconstructing residue materials and construction debris is one of the practical ways that can be adopted to reduce the ecological impact by minimizing waste. Deconstructing a structure involves selectively disassembling the structure bit by bit to preserve materials for use and eliminate waste. The salvaged materials can either be reused or transformed into valuable components that can be resold for future construction projects. In some cases, the previous structure might be built into a new building altogether without disassembling the entire structure that can help in achieving lesser waste generation. The deconstruction process is different from standard demolition because while demolishing speed is of the essence and the goal is to ultimately dispose of the structural components instead of salvaging them, as is the case in deconstructing. Adopting deconstruction over demolition not only helps the environment but also aids public health and safety by reducing pollutants resulting from demolition processes as well as a sincere profit margin that can be salvaged off the acquired components and materials. When working on a construction project, designers should focus on constructing a structure in such a way so that in the future it can be deconstructed easily to extract reusable material as much as possible.

  1. Proper Identification of Materials-One of the most important steps in managing waste on a construction site is identifying materials as per their usage and their methods of disposing of. Materials can be identified on the basis of them being recyclable or reusable, and the methods that can be used in recycling them. While procuring materials, focus can be given to eco-friendly materials that include numerous recyclable properties and reuse potential and subsequently generate lesser construction site waste. Some of the materials that have high chances of being recycled or reused can be concrete, wood, metal, plastic, glass, drywall, asphalt components, etc. Concrete can be considered to be one of the highly generated construction site waste far more than metal, wood, asphalt, gypsum, and drywall combined.
  2. Proper Placement of Waste Receptacles-Waste receptacles, i.e., dustbins or containers for disposing of waste, should be placed at locations so that it is convenient for employees to dispose of waste without any issue.

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There must be receptacles for all types of waste being generated such as receptacles for wood, metal, concrete, etc and these must be placed in several locations around the construction site to avail disposing of opportunities to everybody on sites. After the appropriate number of receptacles are installed in important locations, contractors and employees must be made aware of these containers and they must be encouraged to use these receptacles. Regular disposal services should also be scheduled to avoid waste piling up in these receptacles.

  1. Reuse Scraps-Many a time new material supplies are used when scraps from the previous materials are still available, that can be used to perform certain tasks. Reusing material scraps and salvaging scraps being generated is a good way of managing waste on a construction site.

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Vendors’ policies must be learned in advance to know about the provisions of returning excess materials back to them.

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Subcontractors can be directed to collect and save scraps at the cutting and fabricating units. Also being updated about the materials that can be reused instead of using new materials.

  1. Recovered or Reclaimed Materials Percentage-A minimum percentage in procuring material quantity should be set for using recovered or reclaimed or recyclable materials that can reduce the environmental impact as well as cut costs on materials purchase. Even the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) has set a minimum amount of reclaimed or recycled materials that have to be purchased for certain specific material types.
  2. Hazardous Construction Waste Management-Hazardous wastes being generated on construction sites are very difficult to be disposed of into the environment and thus are set as a top priority for construction companies in the category of construction waste that needs to be treated safely. Hazardous waste can impact the environment tremendously if not disposed of appropriately. Hazardous waste on construction sites should be identified early as possible, after which they need to be removed while taking precautions and safety measures. If the construction sites are not capable of treating or disposing of hazardous waste, a partnership can be made with a reputed waste management firm to handle the waste, thereby ensuring safety and compliance.

Managing Construction Site Waste can be an uphill task for any project manager or contractor. So to streamline and make the construction waste management process more efficient on a construction site several project management tools, specially designed for handling this kind of complicated management process can be used. [Powerplay application](https://bit.ly/3msIi8y) is quite efficient in managing the distinct processes on a construction site during and after the completion of a project. It is the first of its kind in the country that can manage all construction processes involved in all construction sites. It is very easy to record, update and analyze the construction site information regularly for anybody on-site through this application. Proper updates from the workers on site about these waste disposal issues and, reuse and recycling methods can be used to notify the respective authority automatically. All work that is in process and that which has been accomplished can be seen on a simplified feedback screen. In short, Powerplay can be considered to be an allrounder in managing a construction project right from its initiation to its completion.