With Australia’s population predicted to exceed 40 million by 2050, the amount of waste the country produces could easily surpass 100 million tonnes. And with a third of the waste from construction sites ending up in a landfill, Australia could be facing over 30 million tonnes of construction waste alone, every year.
According to the 2014-2015 National Waste Report, Australia produces a hefty 64 million tonnes of waste—that’s 2.7 tonnes of waste per person. Construction and demolition waste makes up approximately 40 per cent of Australia’s total landfill annually. This amounts to huge volumes of often recyclable, although at times hazardous, waste.
With this in mind, businesses in the construction sector need to think long and hard about cautious and sustainable waste disposal. However, like with like many issues, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to waste management.
Plan Ahead for Waste Disposal
Construction and demolition waste can include concrete, bricks, asphalt, mixed or wet clean fills, green waste, plasterboard, soils, and tiles. With the current increase of residential and commercial building in Australia, this is naturally leading to an increase in the amount of waste produced by demolition and building sites.
It’s important construction managers take the responsibility of ensuring non-recyclable materials are disposed of properly.
Because of this increase, it’s important for construction managers to prepare and implement a waste disposal plan so that they can look ahead and know what types of waste will be generated during excavation, demolition and construction. Recycling, an obvious solution, still remains the best way of sustainable waste management.
However, not all waste can be easily recycled like common materials, such as wood, paper, plastic and glass. This is why it’s important construction managers take the responsibility of ensuring non-recyclable materials are disposed of properly.
For example, industrial wastewater is particularly difficult to remove from a construction site. Therefore, reaching out to the proper liquid disposal specialist is the responsibility of the construction manager.
Reducing Environmental Impact
Additionally, a waste minimisation strategy that reduces environmental impact can go a long way to help reduce a business’s carbon or landfill footprint.
Businesses can achieve this by:
Opting for environmentally-friendly packaging of products and resources.
Introducing a waste recycling and reduction policy on the construction site.
Investing in non-hazardous materials—this is particularly important as hazardous waste like petrol, motor oil, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, batteries, and asbestos can not only be difficult to dispose of, but also they can present massive issues for the health and safety of the construction workers dealing with these materials
Jobsite ANZ spoke to Daniel Defendi, a Researcher at Tunnel Vision Perth, about robust construction waste management solutions.
“As an inevitable part of business operations, construction waste is a growing problem which needs a sustainable solution,” Defendi says. “The effect of construction waste on the environment adds to the pressing need to develop new and effective strategies for waste disposal.”
“Disposing of construction waste thoughtfully and sustainably is not just a business’s duty; it can also represent a golden opportunity.”
Defendi notes construction companies, in particular, can benefit financially from such a strategy, considering the majority of environmentally-friendly materials available on the market are cheaper than traditional materials. Some states have also introduced levies to further encourage the recycling.
“Business leaders can pave the way for more effective and sustainable business practices, reducing their costs while also protecting the environment,” he added. “Disposing of construction waste thoughtfully and sustainably is not just a business’s duty; it can also represent a golden opportunity.”