Sustainable Management of Construction & Demolition Materials

Jan 08, 2018

Building materials account for almost half the solid waste generated worldwide. In Australia alone, about 40% of waste generated from construction and demolition is disposed into landfills. For this reason Governments worldwide are turning to specific regulations and legislation to encourage the recycling of these materials into new revenue streams and new business opportunities.

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is a good example of a Government agency who is focused on reducing the effects from construction and demolition (C&D) waste. They recently announced a series of proposed reforms aimed at improving how C&D waste operators handle these types of waste. In addition, it is intended that they will address major concerns from within Government, industry and from the public around the transport of C&D waste from NSW to Queensland where it is cheaper to dispose rather than recover and reuse in NSW. 

What exactly makes up Construction & Demolition Waste?

  • Concrete
  • Wood (from buildings)
  • Asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles)
  • Drywall
  • Metals
  • Bricks
  • Glass
  • Salvaged building components (doors, windows, and plumbing fixtures)
  • Trees, stumps, earth, and rock from clearing sites

What are some of the methods used by government agencies to manage C&D waste more effectively?

1. Waste Levies: Significant levies are often imposed upon C&D waste to encourage construction companies to look for alternative uses for the waste rather than sending it to landfills.

2. Waste Minimisation Funds: Funding collected via these levies is often used to set up waste minimisation funds which are then used to fund research and development projects in the recycling sector.

3. Waste Data: Another popular method is employing regulations that make the collection and reporting of waste data and information mandatory. This enables regulators to be more informed of the types of waste going to landfill so they can then look at ways to target specific waste streams in efforts to reduce their environmental impact.

4. Waste Mass Balance Reporting: This is another useful tool for regulators to gain greater visibility on the movements of waste materials through the waste facilities within their region. Waste Mass Balance Reporting requires all participants, typically licenced waste facilities and operators, to provide detailed quality data on the waste materials they receive and what is then done with them. This can be an essential tool in stockpile prevention and understanding what waste types are prone for illegal dumping.

As C&D waste makes up such a large portion of our landfills, anything that can be done to reduce this will have a significant impact on the environment but what are some of the wider benefits of more sustainable management of C&D waste?

  • Generates employment opportunities and economic activities in the recycling sector
  • Creates business opportunities and opens up new revenue streams for construction companies
  • Offsets the environmental impact of extracting new resources through obtaining the same resource but made from reused materials
  • Encourages more industry self-regulation and product stewardship programs as players look for ways to better manage their production and consumption waste
  • Can reduce building costs due to costs savings at the landfill as waste is diverted for recycling purposes

Turning Waste Minimisation Initiatives into Reality

Implementing waste legislation and managing any associated regulations is often a complex and daunting task. Software solutions need to be put in place that can allow for the collection of quality data to support monitoring and reporting regimes while providing insights to inform waste strategy development and decisions.

FINNZ has experience developing the systems needed to support waste minimisation initiatives in both Australia and New Zealand. This has enabled us to build a strong knowledge of the drivers of waste policy and legislation and has given us a clear understanding of how to implement practical IT solutions to manage this process.

One of our most recent projects has been the development and implementation of a system for NSW’s Environmental Protection Authority (NSW EPA) to monitor and track the waste within their state more closely.

The Waste and Resource Reporting Portal (WARRP) has provided the NSW EPA with greater visibility on the types of waste that are being stockpiled and areas where reuse and recovery efforts need to be focused.

Read our case study to discover more about the system and how it has improved EPA’s operations and ensured the NSW waste levy could be collected and managed successfully.

Click here to read the case study

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