The Importance of Construction Waste Management and Its Requirements

In almost every project, waste is generated. The construction industry is considered one of the highest waste producers, not just in Australia but in the entire world. Building a house or any property requires a ton of materials. Half of these materials become solid waste. Unfortunately, they can have a massive impact on the environment.

Construction itself involves processes that lead to the destruction of the natural surroundings. It all begins from extracting raw materials to processing to transportation and manufacturing. Even the end of the building’s useful life, which may lead to demolition, can affect the environment.

The Australian government has responded, as well as responsible companies. Everyone has a duty to reduce waste. Regulations are in place, which can be used as a guide to executing smart ways for managing construction and demolition (C&D) waste.


An Overview on Construction Waste

Any company should first understand what construction waste truly is. In essence, it merely pertains to waste produced when you build or demolish.

Some examples include:

  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Asphalt
  • Timber
  • Plastics
  • Rock
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Plasterboard
  • Metals

The list goes on, including liquid and hazardous materials, such as asbestos.

The problem with construction waste is that a large portion can be recycled. However, without a plan, it may not even be considered. Some materials cannot be recycled, though. In such a case, it is required by law to dispose of the waste responsibly.

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the construction industry has shown exponential development over the past two decades. Part of the reason lies in population growth. Other contributors are better public transport systems and infrastructure. All these things require extensive property development. With the steady increase, however, it also resulted in more waste produced due to construction and demolition across the country.

In 2017, it was recorded that C&D created more than 20 million tonnes (megatonnes) of waste. They were generated from various projects, including road work, maintenance of railways, and excavation of land. More than 6.7 million tonnes of waste from this industry went to landfills. The remaining MTs went to other areas, either recycled, reused, or dumped illegally.

Construction site waste with yellow dump truck on the background


Legalities Concerning Construction Waste Disposal

What does the law say about C&D waste? If you are in this industry, it is your responsibility to know; otherwise, there are always consequences waiting. In reality, however, the Federal Government does not have a direct regulation for waste management in the C&D industry. But it does not mean you are free to dispose of the materials you no longer use.

The existence of the National Waste Policy serves as a guideline for the whole country when it comes to waste and resource recovery. It contains the definitions and outlines of duties and roles of everyone in Australia, from individuals to communities to businesses to the governments themselves.

There are also state or territory laws in place that provide the list of the duties of a producer or company. Large-scale projects often lead to tons and tons of waste. One of the things that you can do is to work with your city or local council. The authorities should approve your compliance with the laws.

Correct disposal is just the primary step towards waste management. You are also tasked to provide information whenever necessary. If the local council requires details about your project and how you control rubbish in the workplace, you should have them ready.

Different waste regulations and legislation are depending on the jurisdiction. In Perth and the rest of Western Australia, there are waste strategies crafted by the WA Waste Authority.

Additionally, the state has the Waste Avoidance and Recovery (WARR) Act of 2007, which recognised WA’s need for waste law reform.


Different Types of Construction Waste

In the previous section above, we talked about how construction waste is defined. Some areas fully accept the definition, but there are a few additions. For instance, the Department of Environment WA described waste as:

  • Substances discarded or emitted in the environment
  • Any substance deposited that can alter the surroundings in all manners
  • Rejected, unwanted, or discarded material
  • Any substance intended to be sold, recycled, reprocessed, or recovered by a separate operator

The construction industry will keep producing different types of waste. It is the company’s responsibility to understand what those varieties are. From there, a plan can be formed and executed for every construction project.

Here are the types of waste often generated during construction and demolition:

  • General Waste

This type of waste pertains to materials that you can no longer reuse or recycle. They are neither contaminated nor a source of hazardous chemicals. The typical advice is to send general waste to landfill, which accepts putrescible and non-putrescible materials.


  • Hazardous Materials

Some examples are asbestos, mercury products, and treated timber. Western Australia has a few permanent collection facilities in the metro. They include the Recycling Centre Balcatta (Stirling), Ranford Road Transfer Station (Canning), and Tamala Park Waste Disposal Facility (Mindarie Regional Council).

For non-metropolitan areas, options include Hanrahan Road Landfill (Albany) and Waste Management Centre (Mandurah). For a complete list of locations, please see the appropriate section from the Waste Authority.

You can drop off items, such as acids, CFC-based aerosols, paint and lacquer, products with arsenic, batteries, and cyanides. Asbestos, pharmaceuticals, and used motor oil cannot be dropped off, however.

close up of roof covering material with asbestos fibresibres


  • Liquids

Like many other states, WA operators should have liquid waste taken to proper waste facilities that accept this type.


  • Dredging Materials

Construction also creates this type of waste, particularly during the site preparation. Examples of these materials are trees, tree stumps, rocks, dirt, and rubble.

All these waste materials are challenging to handle. The last thing you want is to focus on how you can dispose of them. It is why a waste management program within the company should exist. While there are facilities where you can dump the rubbish, the best way to get rid of unwanted objects from the construction site is through hiring a skip bin.

Skips are ideal for waste disposal and trash removal, whether you have building or dredging materials. If some items can be reused or recycled, they will be moved to a recycling plant. The best part is that your construction work does not have to face any hurdles, especially when it is time to collect waste.

Pile of construction waste with green skip


Tips on How to Smartly Dispose of Construction Waste

Many companies make this mistake. They start managing their waste when construction is already taking place. Unfortunately, it only makes everything more complicated.


1. Beginning of the Construction Project

Waste management should start here – that is, during the planning stage. It starts with the simplicity of understanding what excess materials will potentially be generated. Then, the company should form a solution for avoiding the creation of excess materials or at least divert waste from landfill.

The best approach here is to develop a waste management plan for each construction project.

It should have its own objectives, which can be to:

  • Minimise the waste generated
  • Maximise materials that can be recycled, reprocessed, or reused
  • Reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills

The key is to develop and implement the plan while considering the following elements:

  • Waste streams, which should be identified and estimated based on the likely amounts generated
  • Waste avoidance by managing waste before it is generated
  • Selection of appropriate waste management contractor or company to provide collection services, as well as recycling and disposal
  • Plans for on-site waste management, such as placement of bins and ease of access
  • Communication responsibilities involving the waste management plan
  • Knowledge and understanding of the personnel on-site, which is crucial to the success of the entire plan
  • Monitoring processes while the waste management plan is being implemented
  • Evaluation of the waste management efforts, whether it is a success or not

It should be stressed enough that the pre-construction stage has a significant part in the plan. You can use the points above to create a plan that works.

For example, in the “waste streams’ portion of the plan, you can undertake an inventory of materials that you can recycle or reuse before construction commences. You can use your assessment and list down all the possible waste materials that you will likely generate during the project, along with their approximate amounts.

Be sure to have an overview of the specific types of materials, for example:

  • Type of timber
  • Plywood or MDF
  • Iron, steel, and other ferrous materials
  • Copper wiring and other non-ferrous metals
  • Concrete
  • Types of tiles on the site, such as roofing and ceramic tiles
  • Plaster
  • Paint
  • Topsoil and other green waste
  • Fluorescent light tubes

Also state the amount of material you expect to use, such as five to seven per cent of timber or 0.5 tonnes per square metre. It also helps to provide the condition of the materials and the possible contamination of the site with asbestos or lead. This part is essential since it does have an effect on whether the material can be recycled or not.

Proceeding to the second point above, focusing on waste avoidance is an important subject on the waste management plan. You have several options to approach the case, including:

  • Choosing materials that can be easily modified and be used for future projects
  • Finding methods that allow minimum waste production
  • Using modular components, such as prefabrication of components away from the specific site to reduce on-site wastage
  • Lowering packaging requirements for procurement or purchases from other businesses
  • Returning unused materials to the suppliers
  • Storing materials on-site correctly to reduce damage due to weather and other problems, such as those involving machinery

A big question that you should be able to address at this point is with regards to asbestos. Back in the day, houses in Western Australia before 1990 used products that contained asbestos. Also, properties in the state before the mid-1980s have a high likelihood of using these hazardous materials.

In such a case, care should be practised, especially for demolitions and renovations involving these structures. You require a licence to remove the materials with asbestos. Only those who carry a licence, either the operator or employee, should have an appropriate licence to perform the job.

Machines excavating the soil from the beginning of the construction work


2. Implement Waste Management During Construction

The activities in this phase are critical towards achieving the objectives of your plan. It is where you assign and communicate everyone’s responsibilities. Each individual in the construction site should be aware of their duties in relation to the plan.

Take the time to engage and educate the workers. Managers and companies should have clear instructions regarding waste management. The staff should be given an opportunity to offer feedback about the plan’s success, such as what is or is not working.

It often does not matter what kind of waste management system is executed. What is vital is that all personnel should understand how to utilise the available system. Workers should know who is responsible for what and ensure their duties are carried out correctly.

Monitoring is a part of the process. A task that you can focus on is to ask the personnel on-site if the plan is effective. Seeking advice from waste management contractors can also be helpful. You can undertake your own site inspections, which will give you an insight into the materials going into the bin, for example.


3. Post-construction

Finally, you create a plan that also focuses on waste management tasks. Evaluation is often a necessity, which differs greatly from the monitoring process. Once the project is complete, you can assess your estimates before the construction. Compare them with the actual waste you have generated. Also, take the time to gain feedback from the workers.

If you went well over the amounts of waste you have predicted, it may mean you should create a stricter plan next time. You can always use this evaluation to avoid issues in future developments.

EMS Office exterior

ESM Resources promotes the lawful disposal of construction waste. When you need dry hire equipment, contact us for options. Our knowledgeable staff will help you choose the best machinery to use for construction or demolition.