The construction and demolition industry generates 20.4 million tonnes of waste each year, contributing to 40% of Australia’s total waste. Annually, more than 6.7 million tonnes go straight to landfill, including materials such as concrete, bricks and timber, which can otherwise be recovered through recycling.
While large construction companies are already integrating a zero waste mindset in their processes, a focus on recycling waste and using recycled product makes good business sense for builders of all sizes:
- Reduce landfill costs – Landfill levies applied by state governments and the EPA mean that large volumes of heavy waste can be expensive to dispose of. Recover more to spend less of landfill disposal rates.
- Save on materials cost – Locally reprocessed construction materials are often cheaper than using virgin materials.
- Differentiate in the marketplace – Conscientious customers are increasingly looking for builders that operate with a sustainability mindset.
- Create more opportunity in the market for recycled materials. A robust domestic economy for recycled product translates to cheaper material supply.
The Sociable Weaver’s 10-star housing project in Victoria is a strong example of a building company incorporating sustainability into the construction process and benefiting from it. They created an onsite waste separation system and trained their team on correct waste disposal and recycling. The initiative was so successful in increasing recycling rates and reducing waste costs, it is now used across all their job sites.
In ACT, the refurbishment of Trevor Pearcey House achieved a recycling rate of more than 80% and used recycled materials in building window frames, wiring and carpeting. The cost savings were channelled into other aspects of sustainable design, ultimately earning the project the distinction of being the first to achieve a six Green Star rating in ACT.
A Green Star rating provides independent verification that a building project is sustainable. Certification lends an edge to builders competing in a crowded marketplace, in addition to the many environmental benefits from the reduction of waste in the construction process.
Resource recovery opportunities in the construction sector
Most construction and demolition waste including soil and sand, bricks, wood, metal, glass and packaging can be recovered for reuse. Because of its weight and ready markets for recycling, these three materials are particularly primed for recovery:
Concrete and bricks
There’s a strong incentive to avoid weight-based disposal charges by diverting heavy concrete and bricks from landfill. Crushed concrete can be recycled and used to build roads and non-structural applications. Using recycled concrete is also more cost efficient, giving builders up to an additional 15% of product volume compared to virgin material in the form of crushed quarry rocks.
Metals are heavy waste material – the more it’s diverted, the less landfill disposal cost is incurred. There is a ready market for scrap metals which makes it attractive for builders seeking an additional revenue stream. It’s also easy to separate, ferrous metals like steel can be recovered from the waste stream using relatively inexpensive magnets.
With prices over $1,000 per cubic metre for high-grade Australian timbers, salvaging and reusing this material can potentially be attractive to builders although care has to be taken to preserve the quality of timber in the recovery process.
Comprehensive waste management solutions for builders
Cleanaway has extensive experience managing waste from construction and engineering sites through our end-to-end solutions tailored to the needs of every project. We offer a range of bin systems to keep things simple on site but allow us to recover and repurpose as much materials as possible. We are also certified to the highest standards, with all required State and legal permits.
Through Green Star reporting and onsite diversion of waste such as steel, concrete, plasterboard and cardboard, we have helped our customers achieve their sustainability targets at competitive prices and unmatched levels of service.
Cleanaway also collects timber – including pallets, crates and offcuts – for recycling. Even treated timber is used by Cleanaway to produce process engineered fuel (PEF) along with other combustibles at our waste-to-energy sites.
We are a one-stop waste management provider which means less contract-handling and administrative time spent to manage multiple service providers for:
- Land suitability, audits, plans and assessments
- Remediation and disposal of material from contaminated sites
- Secure destruction of contaminated materials
- Specialist pressure water jetting and hydro excavation services
- Spill kits and absorbents for emergencies
For smaller projects, this means a single point of contact for a complete range of hook lift and skip bins (2m³ — 23m³) to meet your capacity requirements, fast bin delivery turnaround times through the use of our innovative GPS fleet tracking system, flexible collections and more.
In addition to our resource recovery services, we also provide crushed concrete aggregate, product sales and delivery including:
- Crusher dust
- 5mm, 10mm, 20mm, 40mm, 40/70mm, 70mm aggregates
- Road base
- Clean fill
Contact us to learn more about minimising your construction and demolition waste for a sustainable future ahead.