Planning for Construction Waste Reduction
The easiest way to reduce waste management
costs is to prevent waste from being generated in the first place.
Architects and contractors can prevent waste during all phases of
a project, including the design, construction, deconstruction or renovation
phases as well as when buying materials for the project.
Planning for waste reduction is crucial to its success. A written, well thought out, job-specific plan, will reduce the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of, and can save money.
Here are some keys to cost-effective planning:
Putting your plan into motion
1. Identify the types of waste and estimate the amounts of waste your project will generate.
2. Check out local salvage and recycling markets for each waste material your project will generate, determine how to reuse the material on site, or plan to give away discarded materials.
3. Determine the sorting and handling methods for each material and include in your Plan.
4. Determine the locations for sorting reusable and recyclable wastes and identify them clearly.
5. Establish a defined area for the operations of each trade. For example, store your off-cuts from wood cutting in one area so they can be sorted by dimension for future reuse.
6. Maximize the reuse of materials back into the job, by construction crews, salvage businesses or used building materials stores. You can also list your available surplus scrap for free on the Vermont Business Materials Exchange (VBMeX)
7. Determine who will manage the program. Select a manager who has an interest in salvage and recycling. This person will be responsible for tracking waste reused and recycled, making sure staff and contractors don't put any trash in the collection bins, insuring the bins are emptied as needed, and keeping staff updated on progress and problems with the program.
8. Educate crews and subcontractors about the Plan and post it in visible locations - such as at recycling sites and in construction project offices. Ensure that they understand your Plan and will agree to comply with it. On large projects or projects you are unfamiliar with the subcontractors, you can require compliance with the Plan in your contract.
9. Incorporate education about the Plan into the agendas of regularly scheduled meetings such as project safety meetings.
10. Include everyone in the process. Encourage suggestions on more efficient methods or on adding materials that can be salvaged or recycled.
11. Offer incentives for employee commitment to your Plan such as free donuts or pizza!
12. Include requirements for waste prevention, reuse and recycling in all bid documents and subcontracts
In addition to a general Waste Reduction Plan, it is important for large projects to specify its waste management goals in subcontractor agreements. This assures that the expectations and procedures are communicated clearly to everyone. The following is a sample specification in a subcontractor agreement:
"The subcontractor will make a good faith effort to reduce the amount of waste generated on the job-site and recycle material as per the contractor's Waste Reduction Plan. The subcontractor will follow the designated handling procedures for each type of waste generated on-site and provide documentation to verify material reuse, recycling, and disposal as indicated in the Waste Reduction Plan."
Reprinted from the King County Washington, Construction Recycling Program http://dnr.metrokc.gov/swd/bizprog/sus_build/a_plan.htm
Other model specifications can be found on the C&D Specifications page
Conversion Factors taken from WasteSpec,
(Model Specifications for Construction Waste Reduction, Reuse, and
• Hauling Service -- Ask your
hauler what recycling options they provide and the fee they charge
for each option. For example, a hauler may accept recyclable materials
that are commingled at the same fee as disposal, but they may charge
a lower fee for source-separated recyclable materials. While labor
costs for separating recycled materials may be high at the onset of
a project, this will decrease over time as crews become familiar
with waste reduction practices.
Compare your bids with and without reuse and recycling to evaluate the economics of reusing and recycling each material generated during your project.
Reducing contamination is the key to successful recycling. Insure that your idea of a "clean" load is the same as your recyclers.
• New Construction Projects
Recycling is easiest on new construction projects. Large quantities of discarded materials, such as lumber, can be kept separate from disposable wastes. Recycling even one material may divert the majority of your waste. Recyclable materials will change during the life of the project. Wood and steel may appear first as the structural work is done, but corrugated cardboard won't show up in large quantities until the end of the project when fixtures are installed.
• Remodeling Projects
Evaluate the salvage and recycling opportunities for your remodeling project based on the quantities of scrap materials that will be produced and the time necessary to separate the materials. You may be able to make money, get a tax deduction, or at a minimum, save on disposal fees on a project by carefully removing building components and fixtures for salvage.
• Deconstruction Projects
1. Contact Vermont salvage companies and used building materials stores to tell them about the project.
2. Walk through the building with experienced salvagers to determine what has value for resale or reuse.
3. Remove salvageable items as early in the project as possible. Allow time for this on the front end of the schedule.
4. Look for salvage opportunities as the project progresses. For example carpet removal may reveal hardwood flooring that is salvageable.
5. Allow workers to reuse scraps or list your available surplus scrap for free on the Vermont Business Materials Exchange www.vbmex.net.
6. Require specifications for reuse in the bid documents. Specifications could include a requirement to "salvage reusable materials for resale, for storage for use on future projects or return reusable items (e.g., pallets or unused products) to the material suppliers".
7. Compare estimates for your demolition bids to your deconstruction bids. You may also want to consider partial salvage, such as salvaging the more valuable fixtures and materials and demolishing the remainder.
VT DEC Waste Management Division 103 South Main Street, West Office Building Waterbury, VT 05671-0404 Tele: 802-241-3888 Fax: 802-241-3296
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