According to the 2020 National Waste Report, construction and demolition work accounted for 44% of all the waste produced in Australia. This roughly translates to 27 million tons of wasted materials like glass, metals, and bricks. In 2022 and beyond, waste generation is only expected to increase as construction projects start to pick up the pace.
The problem with wasted materials is that it can cost a lot of money and resources to dispose of them properly. The environmental impact of all that waste is also significant. Therefore, construction companies must find ways to reduce the amount of material waste they produce. Here are five ways to do just that:
Properly store and secure building materials
Material waste often stems from damage accumulated through poor storage or exposure to the elements. For example, wet and moist environments can lead to rusted metal pipes or rotted wooden pieces that have to be discarded.
Construction companies can prevent these issues by storing materials in a safe and secure location. This involves keeping materials in dry facilities that are regularly cleaned and maintained to minimise external hazards. At construction sites, companies should prepare a temporary storage area for materials and cover it with tarpaulin sheets to protect them from the weather. Theft and vandalism can also be a problem, so materials should be stored in locked areas with security cameras whenever possible.
Track inventory levels before ordering new materials
When construction companies aren’t regularly taking stock, they can easily overorder materials. This typically happens when construction managers overestimate the quantity of materials required for a project or when projects get cancelled and materials go unused.
Companies can avoid overordering by leveraging an organised inventory management system. The system features a central database where managers can track material quantities in real time. If supplies reach certain minimum levels, the system can automatically generate purchase orders for new materials. Managers can also analyse material usage per job, so they can better estimate how much is needed for future projects.
Recycle and reuse construction materials whenever possible
Not all construction waste has to end up in a landfill. In fact, many building materials like bricks, concrete, steel beams, and plasterboard can be recycled and reused. Materials that can’t be recycled include laminated products, treated wood, lead- or asbestos-containing materials, and hazardous chemicals.
Construction companies should try to use any excess materials in other projects before recycling them. They should also have procedures for separating recyclable materials from general waste before shipping these off.
Engage with responsible suppliers and waste removal services
Many material suppliers are willing to provide construction companies with sustainable options. For example, some suppliers offer salvaged or recycled materials that can be used on construction sites. Other suppliers may also help reduce construction waste by taking back excess materials after projects.
When it comes to waste removal, it’s important to find a company that will dispose of them in an eco-friendly way. The company should outline how they’ll recycle the materials and when they’ll collect the waste from your site. When comparing different services, construction managers should ask about the provider’s environmental credentials, what type of waste can be recycled, and how much it will cost.
Educate employees on the importance of waste reduction
Waste reduction will not be effective without employee education. Every construction worker should be aware of how much waste is produced on jobsites and the negative impacts it can have. They should understand the importance of measuring twice and cutting once to prevent waste and reduce costs. Workers should also know what recycling options are available to them and how they can properly store materials to avoid damage.
Companies can educate construction workers through various channels, such as toolbox talks, posters, and employee handbooks. Employees should also be encouraged to report any waste issues so that companies can address them quickly. For example, if storage areas are disorganised or there is an abundance of certain materials, employees should feel comfortable raising the issue with managers.
For more tips on how construction companies can operate more efficiently, WorkBuddy has several articles on best practices. We also provide a powerful field service management system that comes with intuitive inventory management capabilities. Schedule a free demo with us today.