Everything you need to know about construction waste

Everything you need to know about construction waste

Construction materials are currently in high demand. Lockdown being lifted has triggered a surge in the number of construction projects, making the sourcing of already scarce materials even trickier. The materials are rising in price and difficult to source, which puts a magnifying glass on how construction companies utilise and dispose of their materials.

The industry, due to shortages, has been hit with the reality of how much goes to waste. The construction industry is the UKs biggest consumer of natural resources and uses 400 million tonnes of material each year, producing an enormous 100 million tonnes of waste.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the construction industry was responsible for a shocking 62% of the UK’s total waste in 2018. A lot waste is produced because a large portion of construction waste is unable to be recycled, a study from 2013 shows that 13% of materials on site go directly to waste without being used.

Types of construction waste

Construction waste refers to what is created during construction activities, such as packaging or demolition. It also refers to the materials which are wasted as a result of over ordering. The government website has released a list of common construction waste:

•Insultation containing asbestos
•Tiles & ceramics
•Untreated wood
•Metallic waste
•Soil and stones
•Paint and varnishes

The list above is only a few types of waste which construction produces. It is important that those involved in construction recognise what waste they produce, before trying to reduce it.

How can you reduce your construction waste?

Reduce, reuse, recycle is also known as the 3 R’s and has become a very common slogan to help spread awareness on how the impact on the environment, caused by the use of materials, can be minimised. It consists of 3 methods of recycling which construction companies can easily implement into their business to reduce waste.


The first step of the process is reduce. Reduce the amount of waste which is being produced. This solution is the most cost effective and the best for the environment. Construction companies can reduce the amount of materials they are using by planning ahead and ensuring they are only ordering what they need.

The benefit of saving money is especially appealing to those who don’t have large profit margins, like contractors. Contractors work on incredibly small profit margins, a report from Construction News highlights this through analysing the profitability of the top 100 UK contractors. Within this report it states that contractor margins are severely under pressure. A supporting quote from Simon Rawlinson shows the severity of the situation. He states that “nearly 50 of the CN100 delivered a lower margin than could be gained from an investment in a competitive cash ISA”. Highlighting the importance of cost saving and reducing waste in the construction industry.


Reusing excess materials can drastically reduce waste. Any leftover materials can be used again for new projects, saving resources and money. If a company has materials spare which they cannot utilise for a current project, it is best to store it in a safe and dry place so it can be reused another time. Reusing materials will also reduce the amount of orders a company has to make, as they may have the products they need left over from a past project or have them in storage.


Although 13% of construction materials cannot be recycled, this shouldn’t limit companies recycling the remaining 87% of materials which are able to be recycled! If a company is unsure on where to start with recycling, their waste contractor can help. In order to recycle, the materials must be clean, dry and kept away from other materials. It should be clear which materials goes in which bin/container, so they don’t get mixed up to ensure they are properly recycled.

Benefits of reducing construction waste

There are many benefits of reducing construction waste, for both the environment and construction companies. The benefits for the company include:

• Earn money through recycling materials
• Improve reputation to customers, suppliers and potential customers as your company will be seen as environmentally friendly.
• Be seen as a ‘green’ business which can set you apart from your competitors
• Save money by reducing the amount of materials ordered/used
• Save time, as you won’t need to dispose as many materials

There is also a long list of benefits for the environment, some include:

• Preserves natural resources
• Reduces CO2 emissions
• Less waste goes to landfill
• Risk of pollution incidents will be lower

The wastage which the construction industry produces is becoming an increasingly alarming issue. What more do you think could be done to reduce the waste in construction?

Let us know by tweeting us @Barbournews!

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