Construction waste disposal

10 Tips for How to Reduce Waste Disposal on Construction Sites

Why Reduce Waste Disposal on Construction Sites?

In the construction industry, tons of waste is produced on job-sites. In the U.S alone, an estimated 251 million tons of solid waste is generated annually. However, less than a third of that amount is recycled or composted. And, up to 40% of that waste is from the construction industry and its production of unused building materials. Construction companies are responsible for an enormous amount of waste and proper waste disposal on construction sites. Much of this amount can be recycled or even reused; however, sometimes, after a long day of labor, sustainability, and care for the environment are brushed over. Sustainable building practices are growing in popularity, and a waste management plan is not only beneficial for construction companies but the environment as well. 


Article Highlights

— Benefits of reducing waste disposal from different perspectives

— Deconstruction vs. Demolition – What do these terms really mean?

— Reduce, reuse, & recycle – The 3 Rs for making a difference in waste management


Construction Waste
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Benefits of Reducing Waste Disposal

On behalf of the environment,

-less waste goes to the landfill

-less use of natural resources

-lower risk of pollutant incidents

-lower CO2 emissions from producing, using and transporting waste


On behalf of construction companies,

-cut costs by effectively using materials, 

-leads to increased efficiency of workers

-more business opportunities because “green” building differentiates your company from others, client’s are more likely to favor a more sustainable approach. 


1. Plan Ahead 


Project managers are responsible for coming up with a building plan before starting. Thorough planning and proper organization mean fewer mistakes are made and result in fewer materials wasted on job sites. Before building begins, a detailed plan incorporates the following to reduce waste disposal:


— Account for potential waste 

— Provide jobsite with recycling, compost, and waste bins

— Calculate the exact amount of material, only order what is needed

— Identify recyclable materials

— Educate workers on sorting waste as produced


Construction Reuse
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2. Choose Vendors Wisely


If you are passionate about your company and its sustainability goals, choosing a vendor will support your goals and intentions. You need to select a vendor that is best for your work preference, one that won’t slow you down and can handle the scope of your project. Your vendor must be flexible with your schedule because it does no good for your company if they can’t sort through your materials and empty your containers in a timely way. Take your time and do your research to find the vendor that will benefit your company and achieve your sustainability goals.


3. Deconstruction instead of demolition

Deconstruction is an alternative for demolition, and it is known for being a reuse strategy, according to the U.S Green Building Council (USBGC). The process of deconstruction is selectively disassembling a building, piece by piece to preserve materials, and eliminate waste. These salvaged materials are reusable and transformable into valuable resources that can be sold to future construction projects. Additionally, if you donate the recovered materials, you can use it as a tax write-off. 


Standard demolition uses deconstruction’s process of removing the high-valued, reusable materials. However, the main distinction between the two is that demolition has a lower chance of recovering reusable materials because the process is focused on the material disposal speed to be as efficient as possible. 


Opting for deconstruction before demolition benefits more than just the environment – it helps aid public health care by reducing toxic airborne pollutants related to demolition.


Recycle Construction
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4. Recycle what is not reusable


Placing recycling bins on jobsites for workers to sort materials respectively will help minimize the amount in your dumpster and ultimately reduces the waste your build creates. The following list of materials can go into a recycling bin. 


— asphalt 

— brick

— concrete

— carpeting

— cardboard

— drywall

— gravel

— metal

— paper

— plastics

— roofing

— wood (untreated)


Items from building structures are also recyclable like baths, countertops, and sinks.


Construction reuse waste
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5. Donate Materials that are in Good Condition


All debris from construction sites goes straight to the landfill. Before tossing all of your construction remains into the dumpster, you should sort through and see if you can recycle or donate the materials. 


 Donating to organizations

— donate appliances, doors, fixtures, hardware to organizations

— look for charity projects that will take your extra materials and items

— Leverage the positive public relations this may bring your firm


6. Reduce packaging

Approximately 10-12% of a project’s construction waste comes from strictly cardboard. Protecting new materials is necessary. However, the contractor can direct suppliers and other subcontractors to reduce nonessential packing and packaging. 


 How to reduce packaging

— Purchase materials in bulk amount and avoid individual packaging with purchases in volume amount

— Use returnable containers and packaging materials

— Reuse non-returnable containers as much as possible. You can use tubs, barrels, and buckets to hold materials

— Donate non-returnable containers if you aren’t using to community organizations. For example, community service groups, schools, shelters, youth groups can use them


reuse and recycle on construction sites
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7. Know local recycling


Look into your local construction and demolition recycling services and know what materials they can take and in what forms. Consider recyclers that accept mixed debris because it means you don’t have to sift through the debris. Additionally, recyclers’ rates are usually lower than landfills, so the more you recycle, the less construction site disposal. 


8. Reuse Scraps instead of cutting new Materials


To reduce waste disposal on construction sites, it is important to implement reusing materials as much as possible.


— Placing materials that are in good condition in another location to keep them safe and out of the way

— Examining the reuse pile to see if you reduce more waste. For example, don’t cut a 15-foot piece of lumber for a smaller part if there are shorter pieces in a pile.

— Chopping wood can be used as mulch if it is not stained or painted. 

— Directing subcontractors to collect and save scrap at cutting and fabricating locations


9. Get a contract with C&D recycling and waste


The contractor can contract with the local recycling firm that deals with specific materials and a general waste firm. Alternatively, the contractor can contract with a general waste firm that provides a one-stop service that takes separate receptacles for recycling materials and waste. 


Organized construction site
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10. Organize construction site


An organized construction site is crucial to reduce mistakes. If you clearly label and separate the recyclables and waste containers to prevent confusion and increase productivity on job sites. Time equals money; the more efficient your team works means, the less money spent on separating materials and having to perform rework. 



The less you throw away, and the more you reuse materials, the less money you spend on waste disposal on construction sites. Even if you donate materials instead of throwing them away, you can claim tax benefits on them. Reducing waste disposal on construction sites starts with a plan, and the implementation of new habits can motivate a more eco-friendly construction site.