Construction projects produce waste as an inevitable byproduct. Even on a small lot, everything from chips of plywood to sheetrock scraps to used power tools would pile up during and after a build.
In 2018, U.S. companies generated 600 million tons of construction and demolition debris. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that’s almost 12 percent of all waste in the country! Unfortunately, as the years have gone on, that number has slowly but surely gone up.
Construction waste in itself can be anything used or unused/leftover from a job. The materials can vary depending on what was being constructed in the first place. It can include the likes of:
- Cement blocks
- Insulation materials
- Roofing panels
Since every construction project is handled differently, each site will have its own combination of the abovementioned materials. Let’s explore the reasons behind some of the most common types of construction waste and debris out there:
After construction is over, builders often have leftover materials that are no longer needed. They might include wood, glass, metal, or concrete. These materials often end up in a landfill because the builders are not sure what else to do with them.
In some cases, there may be a minor accident or two if these materials are mishandled or installed incorrectly. An awkwardly placed nail, for example, immediately becomes waste.
All of the aforementioned materials could end up stowed away in a warehouse for other uses. For example, wood can be cut into firewood, metal can be melted down and reused, and glass can be sold to a recycling plant! When it comes to the concrete, it can be buried as fill dirt in areas where it will not impede upon growing grasses or roots.
Demolition and Disposal
Demolition is the destruction of buildings and other manufactured structures. When a building is demolished, it leaves behind rubble, which must be disposed of somehow, whether in the trash or at a landfill. Much of this rubble can be recycled.
Even materials damaged beyond repair can often be recycled and used again for things like paving or construction. The company can decide to reuse the materials on another job, sell the materials, or recycle them at a recycling center.
Materials Budgeting and Procurement
When a construction company builds a site, it may order more materials than necessary as an allowance. After all, it would be much easier to order materials in bulk than reordering again in smaller amounts. Once the construction is complete, there is usually plenty of waste that may actually still be used.
Changes that end up needing to happen during the construction process can also lead to waste. For example, if a two-storey home’s staircase suddenly has fewer or more steps than originally planned, that will lead to excess that basically becomes waste also.
Construction sites produce a lot of waste as a natural result of refining raw materials to fit into an architect or engineer’s design. The transformation of these materials can vary and involve different building processes. This is why every project should responsibly account for waste disposal strategies during and after the end of the project.
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