How can you improve waste management at Australian construction sites?

How can you improve waste management at Australian construction sites?
Photo: Joffi, Pixabay

In the Australian construction industry, one of the main concerns relating to the construction activities is that of construction waste management. It is widely known that construction sites generate a huge quantity of waste that is mostly disposed of in the landfills on a daily basis. Masonry material, organic wastes and fly ash are the largest waste streams, representing nearly two-thirds of waste that was generated in 2014- 15 in Australia. However, this can only continue for so long and there is an urgent need to take into account the huge debris that is left behind after a construction has been completed.

The debris left behind is known to have direct consequences on the construction industry itself and the very environment resources that it depends on are depleted due to the careless disposal of waste at the landfills. If the construction industry is to practice effective waste management, then one has to become aware of the significance of such waste management. It is estimated that during 2006–07, nearly half (48%) of all waste was disposed of to landfill. Approximately 42% of construction and demolition waste went into landfill in 2006–07.

In order to take positive steps towards waste management in the construction industry, there is a need to understand certain factors which can help to improve waste management.

A study of waste management:

Before one can successfully practice waste management at the construction site, it is important to get to know the various practices that can be followed. There is considerable study that highlights how one can go about controlling the waste and recycling all of the materials that can be used again. Trained professionals in waste management can help to guide the construction workers about things that can be reused or how to go about reducing the amount of waste that is generated.

Supervision of the construction activity:

In order to become more efficient with the management of the debris collecting in a construction site, one needs to ensure that there is proper supervision of the various activities taking place at the site. Since construction sites are large areas requiring people of different expertise, it is essential to educate everyone about the positive effects of waste management and the need to practice such management at the construction site. A supervisor should be employed, who makes sure that each and every team on the site is taking a step towards waste management, no matter how small the step.

Documenting the practices followed:

Since construction is something that goes on for a certain length of time, it is necessary to document the various processes to be followed in order to practice effective waste management at the construction site. You might wonder that documentation would be in vain but it can be helpful for future guidance when it comes to construction and renovation projects. It can also serve to educate the workers about the various practices that they can implement in order to lessen the amount of debris that collects at the site.

Inventing and adding new practices for waste management:

Waste management techniques have come a long way from the time that it was first introduced in Australia. There have been numerous changes that have been successfully implemented into the everyday practices. While the basic principles of reuse, reduce and recycle are still followed, there have been several improvements, which when taken into the fold can help to control the amount of waste that is thrown out. There is an urgent need for policy drivers in the construction business. If 10% of packaging was made from recycled material, we would see a massive change in the recycling industry.

While the concept of waste management in the construction industry is still new, there are many contractors who are taking certain measures to make sure that they generate as less waste as is possible from their construction or renovation activities. While the easiest way of dealing with the waste is to throw it off in a nearby landfill, the environmentally conscious way to go out is to recycle and reuse anything that is capable of being used again. According to The National Waste Policy, the motto of Less waste, more resources was agreed by the Australian environment ministers in November 2009, to set Australia’s waste management and resource recovery direction to 2020.

Even though it is not possible to change the practices at the construction sites overnight, little efforts from our end can go a long way towards an environmentally clean future. Construction activities involve sourcing a lot of the materials from nature and giving back to nature in whatever way possible is the ideal thing to do. There has to be accountability on the end of each and every worker at the construction site and there has to be a certain desire to contribute positively by practising proper waste management.

After the construction waste has been segregated and recycling of the materials has been carried out, the contractors can then throw out the little remaining junk in industrial skip bins that are then disposed of at a designated landfill. But to ensure proper waste disposal, it is imperative that you hire only a professional skip hire company. While earlier construction sites would be generating huge amounts of debris that needed dumping, now the amount of waste thrown out reduces immensely with the right practices.