Construction Waste

The construction sector is a major consumer of energy and raw materials, and a major producer of waste.

Due to population growth and increased demolition and renovation sites, the tonnages generated by this sector are increasing sharply. Moreover, traditional storage or incineration treatment systems are expensive, controlled and implantation is increasingly limited by regulations.

Producing as little site waste as possible implies preventive work when developing the project (at the design level), and on the choice of construction processes. This analysis allows:

  • saving waste treatment and disposal costs (less mixed, less composite and easily sorted), because recycling is less expensive than landfilling or incineration
  • reusing or recycling waste more easily and thus saving raw materials
  • to promote employment because deconstruction consumes a lot of manpower

How could we better manage our construction waste

Optimizing site waste management

The management of site waste by anticipating deconstruction implies on the part of the master of work:

  • schedule waste management in the construction operation
  • integrate waste management into the selection process of the construction company
  • provide stakeholders with the technical and financial means to apply this management
  • monitor and control waste management on the site
  • carry out preliminary studies for the implementation of site waste management
  • integrate specific clauses for waste management in the specifications

On site waste management requires on the part of the project manager to raise awareness and staff training in site waste management, but also implementation of solutions and techniques for deconstruction and sorting on site.

Project design

The design of the building must be minimal in waste:

  • by the use of a supporting structure of standardized dimensions
  • by providing for the modulation of buildings over time, which implies a reduction in production
    of waste during future conversions

Choose the constructive process

Using prefabricated materials and materials with standardized dimensions allows reduction of the production of waste on site and in the workshop, the duration of the site and nuisances (noise, dust). Using construction techniques allowing easy disassembly, such as assembly by mechanical fixing (interlocking, screws or nails, etc.).

Choose materials

The materials must meet several criteria: a high content of recycled materials, the ability of the material to be dismantled and a large proportion that can be recycled. There is no point in sorting and recycling construction waste if there is no demand for products made from this secondary raw material.

Sort on site

The author of the project must consider a demanding sorting level which can be broken down as follows:

  • recoverable and / or reusable materials
  • hazardous waste (incinerable / non-incinerable)
  • recyclable waste (inert, metallic, wood, glass, plastics)
  • non-recoverable waste (incinerable / non-incinerable)

Please note that some waste has intrinsic value (metals, furniture, old bricks, etc.). The project manager must be concerned that the waste is properly sold during the site for its own benefit.

An historical note about waste production

When materials, techniques and materials get tangled and get involved … waste is becoming more and more diverse …

Nuclear power: the first nuclear cell was operated in Chicago on December 2, 1942. The Manhattan project initiated by the United States will result in the making of the bomb atomic, tested on July 16, 1945 and used against Japan (Hiroshima and
Nagasaki). The nuclear energy will then be applied to the propulsion of boats. The first nuclear power plants were commissioned in 1957 in France).

Steels and alloys: metallurgy developed from the 1950s in the high strength steels: industrial alloys born of the need for certain techniques were becoming more and more efficient.

Synthetic materials: they were created between the two world wars thanks to new petroleum distillation processes. During the Second World War, the technological research intensified to compensate for the scarcity of natural materials: the manufacture of synthetic materials (synthetic rubbers, polyesters, polyethylene, silicones) became massive around 1950.

Plastics: they appeared in 1865 with Celluloïd but their real development begins around 1960. Their production, since 1980, exceeds in volume that of metals. Today, plastics are present in all areas of human activity, from packaging to the interplanetary rocket; so can we now consider us as having entered the “plastic age”.

Composites: since the end of the 20th century, they are made according to clean alloys which modify the properties of traditional materials (glass, ceramics, metals, plastics) or which are the source of new materials.

Agriculture and chemistry: the agricultural sector became in the 20th century more dependant on the industry: agricultural machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, taking into account the needs of consumers transformed a production
peasant woman in the food industry.

One industry to uses most of the above items is of course construction. If you look at construction dumpster rentals in Austin for example, a very busy city in Texas, then you can see this is a very big market. Construction requires a lot of waste management, for debris in bulk, and often a few dumpsters are required just to cover one medium-size site.

Waste management of the future

To preserve the planet, a new model of society must prevail.

This situation which seems out of control provokes a change of mentality. Until then, we thought that science would find how to solve these environmental problems. But this is not the case. Everyone has to take charge.

Initiatives flourish, whether they come from companies, local governments or ordinary citizens. Self-service bicycles and electric bicycles have doubled the number of people traveling between 2003 and 2014. Car pooling is growing and 150 million people share their car today.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of waste – each European person produces 354 kilos per year – we shop in bulk stores. Organic food is constantly growing, with an increase of 20% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

This multiplication of goodwill is the subject of a documentary, which presents ecological solutions to the four corners of the world; it won over 1.2 million viewers, a success rarely achieved for this type of production. Filigree, along – footage conveys an idea hitherto defended by marginal thinkers: faced with the emergency, salvation can only come from a new model of society where growth and carbon are no longer the kings. Symbol of this conversion: Pierre Rabhi. Long regarded as a sweet dreamer, this pioneer of ecological farming has become the prophet of happy sobriety, and his address book has as many politicians as stars.

Can we dream of a cleaner world?

In France, air pollution is on the decline – sulfur dioxide concentrations have been falling since the 1990s. In London, since January 1, new taxis must be electric. And Portugal produced more green electricity last March than it consumed. But the imbalances created in previous decades may be irreversible. In the USA and in particular in Texas, waste management companies like Dumpster Rentals, Tyler, TX and Fort Worth Dumpster Rental Bros are helping with clean out and recycling.

The current pandemic of 2020 is helping reduce carbon emission and general consumption, and maybe this will help people understand the effect of their over-consumption on our planet.

In November 2017, 15,000 scientists – a record number – took the pen to launch a call to save humanity from global warming. Salvation, they say in their text, will necessarily go through “major changes”.

From the industrial revolution to the Kyoto protocol

1810: Napoleon signs a decree relating to factories and workshops which spread an unhealthy odor. This text effectively protects industrialists from attacks by local residents, because it establishes that in the event of a conflict, the police can no longer intervene. Arbitration must be done by justice.

1952: On December 5, London wakes up in a mist made up of fine particles and ozone. The big smog lasts five days, kills 4,000 people and intoxicates 100,000. Following this episode of pollution, the Clean air act, a law to improve air quality, was adopted in 1956.

1962: The release of the book Silent Spring is a thunderclap. Biologist Rachel Carson accuses DDT, a pesticide, of killing the birds. Becoming a bestseller, he contributed to the ban on DDT in the United States in 1972.

1972: From June 5 to 16, Stockholm hosts the first United Nations conference on the environment. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is born and the participants decide to meet every ten years.

1988: Time bestows its title of personality of the year on … Earth, which we discover in one, suffocating under a layer of plastic. The American magazine calls in its pages for a universal crusade to save the planet.

1991: A European directive aims to protect waters against pollution by nitrates. In Brittany, their quantity is such that the green algae which feed on them on the beaches proliferate.

1992: In Rio de Janeiro, from June 3 to 14, the third Earth Summit brought together around 100 heads of state and conference star Commander Cousteau. Ecology is finally at the heart of diplomacy. But the results are mixed: the Rio declaration is not legally binding and concrete decisions are struggling to follow.

1997: The countries signatory to the Kyoto protocol commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5.2% compared to 1990 levels. Came into force in 2005, the agreement was ratified by 184 States, but only 37 industrialized countries are really involved.

1999: Scientists find the world’s biggest pollution: a 3-kilometer-wide brown cloud like the United States extends from the Red Sea to China. It is formed every year from December to April and kills several hundred people a year in Asia.

2000: Goodbye the super! As of January 1, no more EU countries are offering leaded petrol at the pumps. Beneficial for the environment, the measure was actually taken because lead is harmful to the catalytic converters with which new engines have been fitted since 1993.

2007: Former US Vice President Al Gore receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the fight against global warming. His documentary A Troubling Truth, released in 2006, was a hit in movie theaters.

2012: An EU directive stipulates that, by 2019, 85% of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) must be collected and recycled, compared to 33% today. Their quantity is constantly increasing, with 48 million tonnes worldwide in 2012.

2014: On March 17, the principle of alternate circulation is applied in Paris. Due to a strong episode of fine particle pollution, only vehicles with odd numbered plates are allowed to drive. This is the second time that the measure has been implemented since 1997.

2017: On January 1, non-recyclable single-use plastic bags are banned from stores. Used for a few minutes, they take between one and four centuries to disintegrate when they are abandoned in the wild. In 2014, 17 billion units were distributed in France alone.

2018: Europe is also declaring war on plastic: straws, goblets, cotton swabs and seven other plastic products should soon be banned and replaced by durable materials. 1.5 million animals die each year from ingesting plastic waste.