Research suggests that the UK construction industry generates over 100 million tonnes of waste each year, accounting for more than half of the country’s total waste. While around 90% of this non-hazardous waste is recovered in some form, that’s still more than 10 million tonnes of waste that are added to landfill each year.
On some small construction sites, waste management is little more than making sure the skips large enough to fit all the waste! But waste management should be far more than that. It’s all about efficiency - less waste means lower costs - not just in terms of disposal costs, but also the cost of buying materials in the first place.
With a combination of planning and technological solutions, contractors can reduce waste and the costs associated with it.
Whenever possible, start minimising waste from the design stage. Suggest that clients adjust plans to accommodate standard-sized materials, and reduce unnecessary waste. You could also look for opportunities to use recovered materials in place of brand new resources.
Next, use estimating software to accurately calculate the various types of materials required for each element of the project, and where potential wastage could occur.
Software can also help you plan other aspects of your project. Manage your suppliers and subcontractors with construction management software, and plan when you’ll need certain supplies. Studies suggest than anywhere between 10-30% of all construction materials are wasted due to damage, loss and over-ordering.
By reducing the time materials are stored on-site (where they risk damage from the weather, and from accidents), you can keep these assets in better condition and reduce the chance they’ll need to be disposed of. You can also review resources used in previous projects to identify the biggest waste generators and work to combat them. For example, you may switch to a supplier who operates a waste take-back scheme.
Finally, create a site waste management plan (SWMP) to better understand how much waste will be generated from your work, and how you can potentially reuse, repurpose or recycle it.
Another source of wastage comes through errors during the construction process. Plans might change, and aren’t properly communicated with all subcontractors. Work has to be redone, and new supplies ordered to complete it.
Today’s BIM solutions are ideal for reducing these types of errors. Plans are streamed to tablets and updated in real-time, so every collaborator always has access to the most recent specifications.
Measurements can be taken on-screen, to quickly confirm work requirements. Different layers can be hidden so each subcontractor can see exactly what they need at any moment.
Centralised document management systems are essential for keeping track of costs, materials, and equipment. Efficient management of all these elements can help you tackle waste.
And much more…
We’ve only scraped the surface of what’s possible when it comes to reducing and managing construction waste. There’s also off-site construction methods, using recycled products, and reducing the waste of the end user to consider.
Looking for construction software to help you reduce costs associated with waste? Check out our family of specialist construction software that’s helped hundreds of businesses run more efficiently.