When working in the construction industry, there are some simple changes you can make to your business operation that can not only save you money, but also reduce the environmental impact of your construction work. Construction has an incredibly negative impact on the environment due to the industry being the UK’s largest user of natural resources and producing substantial amounts of waste.
Each year, around 400 million tonnes of material are used in construction in the UK, with 100 million tonnes being produced and 25 million tonnes ending up being disposed of in landfills. All construction companies should be taking steps to reduce their waste, using materials more efficiently and collecting waste for recycling.
By reducing waste, you can generate some income from collecting materials, reduce costs by purchasing less, maximise on skip space, reduce your CO2 emissions and help to conserve natural resources.
Today, we’re going to outline the three-step process for managing construction waste: reduce, reuse and recycle.
The first step to tackling construction waste is to reduce the amount produced, it is the best environmental and cost-effective solution. When planning a project, ensure that the designs put in place are being done with the goal of creating less waste. Use standard sizes and quantities of materials and plan ahead to reduce off cuts. Avoid over-ordering on materials and arrange the deliveries to match the stages of work; this will help to avoid materials being stored on site any longer than necessary, reducing the risk of anything becoming damaged and needing to be replaced.
Ensure that your storage areas are safe, secure and weatherproof. Make sure you never accept poor quality or damaged deliveries and keep the protective packaging on your materials up until the point they are actually needed. By giving the responsibility of ordering to one person, you can avoid a surplus of materials from being purchased.
Any surplus materials that are leftover from a project can be used again for a new purpose. Collect any off cuts and use these first, before ordering any new materials. Coordinate trades with other construction companies so that left over materials can be used by one another. If using temporary constructions, such as timber hoarding, ensure that any damage is repaired so that it can be dismantled and reused on new projects.
If materials cannot be reused in your current project, consider storing them for future projects. Salvaged materials could possibly be returned, sold or donated. Pallets given to you by the supplier can be repaired so they can be reused or returned to the supplier. If you dismantle a building rather than knock it down, there will be a higher likelihood of salvaging materials. Just ensure you don’t reuse anything not fit for purpose.
Many materials can be recycled, with some even going back into being used for new construction projects. If you’re unsure where to begin, you can ask your waste contractor how they can help you to recycle. Keep your waste materials sorted into appropriate containers close to working areas, use clear signage to show which types of materials go in which container; this will help with the recovery of materials at the end of the project.
Materials for recycling should be kept clean, dry and separate from any other materials or waste. If you’re limited on space, ask your waste contractor if they can sort your waste at their facility for recycling. Materials that can be recycled include broken out concrete, scrap metal, copper cable, tyres, plasterboards, timber and paper.
The true cost of construction waste is not merely as simple as the cost of hiring a skip. It also includes the cost of those materials you bought which end up as waste, the labour cost of handling that waste on site and the cost of that waste storage, transport, treatment and disposal.
Make sure that your construction projects are run as sustainably and environmentally friendly as possible. It doesn’t just benefit the environment, but also your own pockets as you stand to save a lot of money in the long run by reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible. If you’re looking for plant hire in Birmingham or other regions in the West and East Midlands, contact AE Faulks today, or browse our range of machinery on our website to see what we can offer your next construction project.