The Sustainable Business Network recently hosted a seminar exploring how this can be done. Here are the key takeaways:
We need to leverage design to reduce waste
We need to think about waste at the design stage if we want to stop valuable materials from ending up in landfill. This might mean using products with product stewardship schemes to ensure that any offcuts or damaged goods can be remanufactured. It might mean designing a building for deconstruction, rather than demolition. Or it might mean designing with the building’s use in mind, ensuring it is energy and water efficient.
Communicating with contractors is essential
Engaging on-site staff can have a positive impact on waste reduction efforts. For example, teaching builders and contractors about the importance of waste separation and recycling can lead to ongoing behaviour changes. One case study revealed how the builders had needed assurance that imperfections were to be expected and were acceptable when using recycled floorboards.
We all need to hold manufacturers accountable
Companies continue to externalise environmental costs, passing waste down the supply chain and making it someone else’s issue. Putting pressure on manufacturers to take responsibility for the products and waste they create can result in meaningful change. This might be in relation to packaging, offcuts, damaged goods or surplus product.
Roles focused on waste reduction can have huge impact
New roles that focus on waste reduction are emerging. As an example a new role was developed to identify innovative opportunities for product and material reuse on the Eastern Busway Alliance project. The dedicated ‘Material Advocate’ made diverting materials from landfill a priority, with target setting and waste management plans put in place from the start. They worked effectively with the main contractors and engaged with community groups, businesses and individuals about reusing materials and products.
Don’t be afraid of change
The is a growing number of innovative products and services aimed at reducing waste in the sector. These solutions use circular economy principles such as reuse, sharing and trading resources, and designing for remanufacture and deconstruction to eliminate waste in construction.
- Mutu is a resource management platform that enables construction companies to manage their resources in a smarter, more circular way. It helps eliminate purchasing unnecessary equipment and lets you sell surplus material, minimising procurement costs and reducing waste to landfill.
- Bracedon replaces temporary timber bracing with a reusable, circular product. It can be bought or hired and has already prevented 125,000 metres of timber being dumped into landfill.
Learn more about projects to reduce construction waste. View the seminar recording here.