Top 5 Practical Waste-Saving Tips for Your Construction Site

04 Apr 2017 by Paul Cox

Safeguard your profit margins against the plummeting pound and increased materials and construction waste costs. Adopt our waste-saving tips today

While Brexit continues to dominate in the media, parliament and even in the courts, the decision to eventually leave the EU has already hit sterling’s value. And according to the Federation of Master Builders’ State of Trade Survey for Q2 2016, the situation won’t stabilise anytime soon – 65% of firms expect material costs to increase over the next six months, a situation that’s bound to be exacerbated further by rising construction waste costs.

This means that far-sighted building site managers are looking to make savings across all on-site operations, including waste management. It’s no easy task though, when you consider the UK construction sector is the country’s largest consumer of natural resources, using 400 million tonnes of materials while producing 100 million tonnes of waste and disposing of 25 million tonnes of it in landfills.

To rise to these challenges, progressive managers are focusing on reducing, reusing, recycling and efficiently disposing of waste through effective management of construction waste costs, including:

1. Minimising Landfill Costs

With both Landfill Tax and disposal charges growing each year, consigning large volumes of waste to landfill is becoming an even greater drain on already tight budgets.

To counter the threat:

  • Plan in advance what materials are required for the build to reduce the risk of over-ordering
  • Order standard sizes wherever possible to reduce off-cut levels – and if you are left with off-cuts, use them first before ordering any new materials
  • Check that all materials are handled correctly on site to avoid damage that could inadvertently lead to waste.

2. Segregating Waste Efficiently

How waste is separated and stored is essential for effective construction waste costs management:

  • Introduce a secure on-site waste storage area that features clearly labelled and colour-coded skips, bulk bags or wheelie bins for different types of waste
  • If applicable, deploy a mini crusher and screener for leftover bricks, blocks and hardcore
  • Train employees in basic segregation procedures, using incentives and rewards to ensure they follow them
  • Bring on board a team to exclusively monitor and manage materials and waste either on a full- or part-time basis (depending on your budget).

3. Maximising Waste’s Potential

Make waste work for you, not against you, by embracing recycling processes that will help protect budgets on existing and future builds:

  • Decide which materials can be recycled or resold. Timber and concrete, for example, require different recycling methods while scrap metal can be sold on to generate revenue.
  • Choose recycled materials for your projects. These offer the same quality as new materials but at lower unit costs.
  • Send mixed waste skips to a Materials Recovery Facility, and if employing waste contractors, choose the one that offers high but verifiable  waste recovery rates.

4. Reusing Existing Materials

Existing materials represent significant opportunities for ‘getting more for less’ if properly exploited – especially on refurbishment projects:

  • Reuse or repurpose existing materials once they’ve been stripped out, reducing the need for costly new materials
  • Collaborate with other businesses and trades to identify potential opportunities for exchanging waste/reusable materials
  • Carry out repairs on damaged materials, such as pallets, and reuse temporary materials including plasterboard or fencing
  • Stockpile crushed materials from early phases of a project to reuse later on, and consider using any leftover materials on other jobs.

5. Allying With The Right Suppliers

Source suitable suppliers/waste specialists to drive forward your on-site waste management strategy.

They should ideally:

  • Offer take-back schemes that enable you to sell/send back excess materials including packaging
  • Allow for staggered deliveries, reducing the need for managing costly on-site storage areas
  • Submit fully-audited reports on your waste streams, making sure your waste forecasts are based on the most relevant and up-to-date data.

By adopting these practical techniques, building site managers can score wins on multiple fronts quickly and efficiently. Research has shown that effective waste management can lead to landfill diversion rates of up to 95%. Ultimately, by dealing with construction waste costs head on, businesses will not only protect profit margins and enjoy a competitive edge over rivals, but also become part of a growing industry-wide movement aiming to tackle one of the sector’s biggest issues – unsustainable levels of waste.

Key Takeaways:

  • Minimise landfill charges by planning your materials spending and segregating waste materials more efficiently.
  • Maximise your waste's potential via recycling and reusing to make sure no materials are wasted or sent to landfill.
  • Work with suppliers and waste specialists who can drive down construction waste costs through take-back schemes and high waste recovery rates.

Discover how to wrangle your waste streams effectively. Download: Why Carry out a Waste Management Audit for Your Building Site? Control, Credibility and Cost Saving

Download: Why Carry out a Waste Management Audit for Your Building Site? Control, Credibility and Cost Savings