Construction And Demolition Mixed Waste Disposal System
Let's face it. The construction industry affects the environment heavily. It contributes to 23% of air pollution, 40% of drinking water pollution, and even 50% landfill waste. So to stop climate change, we must rethink many processes of our business.
Is your waste classified correctly?
One of the main challenges for the C&D sector is waste classification. I often come across situations where the contractors employed to carry out the groundworks are not aware of their obligations to classify the waste that they produce.
Each waste type should be correctly coded to ensure that it goes to a suitably authorized site that is set up to handle it safely.
Misdescription of waste causes issues at receiving sites. For instance, inert landfills and deposits for recovery sites are not engineered to accept hazardous wastes or mixed C&D waste that is contaminated with inclusions of wood, plastic and metal as they don’t have the necessary measures in place to protect the environment and human health.
There is usually confusion between soil testing for planning requirements, Waste Acceptance Criteria (WAC) testing which is for different types of landfills, and the waste assessment and classification that must be carried out in line with WM3 Technical Guidance for all wastes.
I often come across situations where C&D waste with a strong hydrocarbon odor has been misclassified as inert soil and stones and has been taken to an inert landfill to be deposited. This can easily be avoided if every company in the chain understands its duty of care obligations.
Usually, misdescription of waste is linked to tax avoidance. Companies would pay a standard rate for disposing of hazardous waste of £94.15 per tonne versus £3.00 per tonne for inert waste. This undermines legitimate business and it is damaging to the environment. Soil pollution can affect groundwater sources, drinking waters, surface waters, and human health.
Types of Construction and Demolition Waste
What types of waste the demolition sector has to deal with? It is hard to say, especially as nowadays, the construction industry uses various kinds of materials. However, we can divide it into major and minor components based on the frequency of occurrence in demolition processes.
As you can see, many of these materials can be recycled or even easily used again in building processes. So how to do it properly? One of the most popular strategies nowadays is circular waste management.
Linear VS Circular Waste Management
For many years the whole construction industry was based on linear waste management. What does it mean? The production process recalled a line:
ㆍThe company used new components in the construction processes
ㆍThen it created a product/building
ㆍIn case of any leftovers (or when the product was not needed anymore), the company just threw it away.
This way of production was closely connected to the assumption that the process must be the cheapest possible. It resulted in low-quality, toxic materials, which you could not recycle.
Nowadays, when we are more aware of climate change and our impact on the environment, the construction industry is trying to move towards circular waste management. In this process, the waste is reused as many times as possible, creating new value every time. When it is no longer possible to reuse such components, the responsible recycling process becomes the main aim.
The main rules for proper circular management are:
ㆍHigh-quality products from the start - reusing the same material many times in different processes is possible only when it is high-quality and non-toxic. The companies responsible for the building process should ensure that their components are solid and will not collapse or fall apart during the renovation process.
ㆍDesign for disassembly - except for high-quality materials, in order to make circular waste management possible, the components from which the building is made should be combined in an easy to separate, reused and reconfigured way.
ㆍExtended product-life - dealing with waste is an important issue. However, we should also focus on prolonging the lifespan of components and materials that are still in use. Maybe all that is needed is a repair, upgrade or replacement of small parts instead of throwing the whole part away?
ㆍSelective demolition - here is the most crucial point from today's article perspective. During the demolition process, the components should be removed and disposed of thoughtfully. It applies to easily recycled materials and toxic elements, which, if managed incorrectly, might be a massive threat to your employee's safety.