A Quick Guide on How to Control Your Construction Waste

construction waste

Photo courtesy of Forsaken Fotos(CC Attribution)

These days it’s more important than ever to look after the environment, after all, would you want your children and grandchildren growing up in a world filled with pollution, waste and filth?

Didn’t think so. It’s hard in all professions to keep waste to a minimum, and the construction industry is no different. One of the most important things you can do to control this is by exercising an efficient waste management system, and that doesn’t mean taking it all to the landfill!!

One of the key elements is the use of proper recycling. If you can do it in the home, you can do it at work too, and that way you can involve your staff in helping us send absolutely zero waste to landfill.

We all have a responsibility to do our bit, and it’s so easy these days, there’s no excuse not to. The only thing to remember is how different types if waste are recycled, and if not, how to properly disposed of. This is especially true of hazardous waste. The last thing you want is your Friday night fish supper to be contaminated with some nasty chemicals that have been carelessly dumped by a company just looking to cut corners.

There are some easy ways to cut down on waste if you think recycling sounds too hard. When you’re buying your materials, try buying only what you need, instead of buying what you think you might need in the future. This way, not only are you saving the amount of potential waste, you might also be saving money, and who wouldn’t want that?!

If you do end up with too much, why not see if you can put it to use elsewhere, or find out if anyone would buy it off you at a discounted price? This is much better than sending it to landfill, and you could make at least some, if not all of the money back on it.

As well as potentially recycling your own waste by trying to sell it on, it may also be worth looking into buying recycled materials. You may find them cheaper and this also goes towards your bit to cut down on waste at work.

If everyone does just a little bit, you can make sure waste management is easy. 

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5 Unbelievable Facts About Waste Management

Waste is the unseen problem, once we dispose of it we think about it no more. While your waste costs might not be so forgettable when its on your company’s balance sheet, for most of us – your employees included, don’t think about it once it goes in the rubbish bin or pile. Readjusting your waste disposal habits and placing a greater emphasis on recycling and re-use could save your company serious cash in the long run. Here are 5 facts to get you thinking: 1. Each year in he UK, we throw out nearly 50 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) – if all the components were laid end-to-end, that would reach to the moon three times. More shocking still, is that 25% of it is functioning equipment – and if it were to be re-used would save a total of £200m! 2.  Most people believe that the majority of waste comes from households and domestic use – this is false; household waste only accounts for 9% of the country’s total waste; only around 25% of it comes from households and commercial business use combined. The rest of it, comes from construction and demolition; sewage sludge and farming; spoils from mining, and the drudging of rivers. Every hour the nation creates enough waste to fill the Albert Hall. 3. Food waste from the catering and leisure industries amounts to £724 million in spoiled food. Think how many people that could feed? 4. 50% of the renewable energy that we produce each year comes from gases that are emitted from landfill sites, hardly surprising as each person throws away seven times their own body weight in rubbish. 5. Glass and metal can be recycled an infinite number of times: six billion glass bottles and jar are thrown away each year – it would take three and a half thousand years to sing ‘six billion green bottles’, which is nothing compared to how long glass sticks around for: as it doesn’t decompose or break down, it will last forever.  Recycling one glass bottle would save enough energy to power a laptop for 25 minutes.

The Modern Rules Of Waste Management

The starting point for any discussion about waste management has to be any legislation that has changed the industry. Perhaps most crucial, is the EU Waste Framework Directive, which came into force in December 2008. EU directives have provided long-term vision and guidance for waste management in the UK, particularly in terms of recycling and environmental risks and hazards. Indeed, the EU directives require all EU member states to prevent or reduce waste products and encourage the recovery of waste by recycling, reuse or reclamation where possible. Other legislation that businesses should be aware of are: But what is waste? Waste is defined as:
A material is considered to be waste when the producer or holder discards it, intends to discard it, or is required to discard it.
Businesses must be contracted to a registered waste carrier to collect their waste; these registered carriers must be registered with the Environment Agency – and it is the responsibility of the business to ensure that those who remove waste, have the authority to do so. Registered waste carriers will issue a Waste Carrier Note, which businesses must keep for two year – it is essential that these are kept, as local councils can legal ask to show these – failure to do so can lead to an unlimited fine. If your business deals with food, it is essential to know the rules on this, as there are strict rules on animal by-products and other potentially dangerous contaminants. Other forms of waste maybe hazardous too – if it contains things such as batteries, solvents, chemicals, oils or pesticides – then this may need to be disposed of through special means, due to the environment damage or contamination that it can cause. Check here for more information. Electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) waste, is another major problem for businesses in the modern world. This is complex due to the many components that they contain, and not only do they do not biodegrade, but they can also contain contaminants – things like printer ink, or cathode ray tubes, for example.   Much of can be repurposed, when using specialist WEEE waste experts. For more information on this, and to check on what types of waste this is and how to go about disposing of it – check here. Waste management can be a major headache for any firm, but with some research and a logical approach – it can help businesses save money and help the environment.

The History of Waste Management.

The history of waste management is a story of urban modernization as people moved to cities, and the industrial revolution that attracted them, as businesses and amenities made waste removal infrastructure necessary for environmental and sanitation reasons. It wasn’t until sanitation became so bad in UK urban areas, that a cholera outbreak led to a greater understanding of the need for waste management. The first outbreak in London 1832, was initially thought have been spread by a bad smell, but it wasn’t until the mid-19th century when Dr. John Snow hypothesized that the disease was water-borne. This not only led to a better understanding of the disease but also brought about London’s subterranean sewage system. The modern history of waste management can be traced back to the 1875 Public Health Act, which brought into law modern refuse collection – and demanded that household waste be put into transportable form. Since then, waste has been tackled in many ways. In the 1920’s, the first incinerator was produced and first used in Nottingham. While successful in reducing waste, the incinerator’s by-product was clouds of pollution over the city, and this method ultimately faced strong opposition. Landfill sites are still used to this day, and remain the most effective means of waste removal and management for a growing population with increasing consumption habits – but focus is now turning to reducing these waste mountains. However, waste management techniques have continued to evolve as the environment, and the issue of pollution gaining in increasing importance, and also the needs of business to safely dispose of waste. Recycling has become essential to reduce costs and to re-use expensive or finite resources, as issues of our effect on the planet becoming a pressing issue. Plastics account for 10% by weight and 26% by volume of all recycling in the UK; glass can be recycled indefinitely and is 100% recyclable. Metals, on the other hand, are much more difficult to recycle and can lead to further pollution and pollutants reaching water supplies and soil.  Paper recycling is essential to minimize deforestation – and the bulk of this comes through commercial use – but the switch to a paperless society and working methods, mean that businesses are reducing the need for this type of recycling. The ideal in waste management is the concept of ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ in which all waste can be broken down into its basic constituents and recycled effectively. Aside from the tangible economic benefits to businesses and firms, it is necessary for a world in which ‘carbon neutral’ objectives are becoming an imperative and a reality. The commitment for business to implement a zero waste to landfill strategy requires planning and commitment, but with these measures in place it could lead to organizations finding that they can reduce their outlay through the supply chain.    

Hazardous Waste in Schools

When we think of hazardous waste environments, schools are not the first that come to mind. Yet, like any other environments where people work and go about their day-to-day activities, schools produce waste products that can be harmful to human health – and therefore must be disposed of accordingly. High schools usually have greater pupil numbers and more sophisticated subjects for children to study, which means the greater the chance for hazardous waste to be created. Nevertheless, primary schools should be aware of products that are potential harmful. Science laboratories and departments often have stocks of harmful substances used to demonstrate the basic functions of chemistry and chemical reaction – careful disposal for this type of waste is essential. Flammable liquids, oxidizers, reactives and toxics are all commonly found in school labs, and should be labelled and identified correctly under COSHH regulations. In print and art workshops commonly found chemicals include developers, fixers and dyes, as well as petroleum-based inks. In wood and metal workshops for industrial design subjects, degreasing solvents and Polyurethane sealers are used. Paint and other solvent-based coating materials might also be found on-site at schools, and should be risk assessed for storage, use and disposal. These are extremely hazardous to health and their disposal treated with care. Some examples are paint thinners, adhesives and oil-based paint. Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) can pose another significant hazard: most schools now rely on electrical equipment as an educational aid, and the disposal of this should not be underestimated – there are regulations governing this type of disposal – and it can mean virtually anything with a battery or plug. Similarly, fluorescent tubes and bulbs are also extremely common in both primary and high schools and are classed as a hazard. Used materials should be stored in a special container until they are collected by a licensed waste collector. Oils used for cooking by catering staff at primary and secondary schools are also a problematic and hazardous waste, and all waste should be sealed and taken away by the authorised waste management collectors. Those supervising dangerous or hazardous chemicals in schools are advised to regularly do an inventory of substances and potential hazards, particularly if they have an expiry or use-by date. This will minimise risk, and help those who collect hazardous waste to dispose of it correctly and efficiently.


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