The construction industry is booming and, as a result, our landfills are increasingly under pressure.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, during the 2018-19 financial year, the manufacturing and construction industries generated the most waste, with 12.8 million tonnes (16.9%) and 12.7 million tonnes (16.8%) respectively.

Not only does this amount of waste have an enormous impact on the environment, it is a huge cost for business. During the same year, the construction industry spent $2 billion on waste services, a 35% increase since 2016-17.

Whether you own a big or small construction business, managing your waste better will ultimately create a healthier environment and healthier bottom line.

Waste management on your site is also important from a health and safety perspective, and for avoiding unnecessary fines and penalties.

Do the right thing and get the waste on your site under control with these top tips.

Reduce waste

The best way to reduce waste is to figure out how you can minimise the amount of waste you’re creating in the first place.

The typical waste from construction sites that ends up in landfill includes bricks, concrete, metal, timber, plasterboard, asphalt, rock and soil.

Do an audit of your waste so you know exactly where it’s coming from. Then develop a waste management strategy that outlines the steps you’re going to take to reduce it. Many local councils require waste management plans before they will grant development consent.

Order materials as accurately as possible so you don’t have any excess (which you then have to store or dispose of). Consider switching to just-in-time deliveries so you are only ever ordering what you need when you need it.

If you find packaging is creating a lot of waste on site, work with your suppliers to reduce the amount or change the type of packaging they use.

For detailed information about minimising waste on your worksite, check out this article on the Australian Government’s Your Home website.

Contain and sort waste

A good way to manage your waste more effectively is to help your team sort and separate it into categories.

Set up a few rubbish cages for different materials such as cardboard, timber, concrete, plastic, landfill, etc, and provide regular waste bins for food scraps and household waste during construction.

These rubbish cages ensure your site is safe, your rubbish is contained and compliant with waste management regulations, and help you dispose of your waste more quickly and easily at the end of the project.

Rubbish cages are easy to set up, pack down, move and store for future projects. Plus, as a one-off cost, they generally work out cheaper than hiring a skip.

Recycle or reuse

Keep materials from your site out of landfill by recycling or reusing what you can.

Common building materials such as wood and timber, plasterboard, some metals, bricks and glass should be recycled. These materials also make up the bulk of construction waste going to landfill so diverting them will make a significant difference.

You might already be using recycled materials so you know how common construction materials can have more life in them. Crushed concrete and brick for example can be recycled and repurposed into road bases.

To find out what material you can recycle and how to dispose of it, contact your local council, regional waste authority, or local waste station or landfill, or check out Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You website.

Remove waste responsibly

Poor waste disposal processes don’t just potentially endanger people now, they threaten the health and sustainability of our planet and future generations. Plus, you may be fined or penalised so it’s in your best interest to dispose of your waste responsibly.

Remember, you hold the knowledge and power to constantly improve how things are done on your site. A long-term waste management strategy will take some time to action and implement – why not start yours today?