Best Practices

Construction Site Management: How to Handle the Waste

The average construction site produces large volumes of waste over the course of a project. That waste has to be removed for your job to move forward from one stage to the next and is potentially dangerous to the environment and surrounding communities. A critical part of construction site management is correctly handling and disposing of the waste that your job generates. To help you improve the sustainability of your operation and avoid expensive regulatory fines and penalties, we’ve put together best practices for proper construction waste management.

Common types of waste

The type of waste your construction or demolition site produces will vary based on the specific project, but some of the most common forms of construction wastes include:

  • Extra building materials – concrete, wood, metal, and bricks
  • Packaging materials for supplies
  • Organic waste – Rocks, dirt, and vegetation that has been removed to prepare your site
  • Left over insulation, wiring, plaster, and glass
  • Potentially hazardous materials – lead, asbestos, plasterboard, paint thinners, strippers, mercury, fluorescent bulbs, and aerosol cans

Construction waste management includes all the processes and equipment required to remove these types of materials safely.

Create a comprehensive construction waste management plan

A key piece of ensuring that waste is properly handled is developing a plan of action before your project commences. Taking preliminary calculations into consideration, such as accurately determining the number of materials that will be needed on-site, will help reduce the overall waste generated and prepare you to dispose of the volume that you do create.

An effective construction waste management plan should at least include the following:

  • Potential sources of waste
  • A site plan with designated areas for recycling, compost, and waste cages/bins
  • A list of materials that can be recycled
  • Any special procedures for hazardous wastes
  • Who is responsible for collecting, storing, and transporting the waste

Choose the right vendors

One of the most crucial parts of construction site management is selecting the best vendors to complete the range of support activities that are needed for a successful project. For the waste, you want a vendor that can gauge the project’s needs and adapt to changing conditions and requirements properly. High quality waste vendors will provide containers and have the flexibility to remove recyclables and waste from the site as it is generated, to prevent waste buildup. When deciding on a vendor, it’s important to examine their past track record for safety and regulatory compliance, to ensure they handle your different types of waste in the correct ways.

Reduce material packaging

Much of the solid waste that construction sites produce is the packaging that building materials come in. Purchasing those supplies in bulk will help minimize waste compared to materials packaged individually to cut down on the overall costs of your supplies. We recommend prioritizing recyclable and reusable packaging. For example, barrels and buckets that can be repurposed and used for storage.

Recycle when possible

When it comes to construction site management, it’s important to remember that many building components and construction debris can be recycled. Concrete and rubble are often recycled into aggregate and concrete products. Wood can be recycled into engineered wood products like furniture. Metals like steel, copper, and brass are also valuable resources to recycle. Recycling can help cut down on the amount of waste you generate and even create additional revenue streams by selling off scrap and other valuable excess materials.

Recognize hazardous and nonhazardous waste

A critical part of construction site management is handling all types of waste safely, both hazardous and nonhazardous. Many types of projects use specially treated woods, glass, and plastics that typically contain hazardous substances. There are also bituminous mixtures that contain coal tar, which are also usually hazardous. Many metals like copper, bronze, brass, aluminum, iron, steel, and tin are all classified as nonhazardous. Some hazardous metals that need to be kept in mind are cables containing oil, coal tar, and other hazardous substances. Then there are soils and stones that can be contaminated with hazardous substances. An example of this type of waste would be any material that has a presence of fragments of asbestos, as well as asbestos containing materials.

It’s important to understand whether your waste is hazardous or nonhazardous, and follow all required procedures for each type. Your waste handling provider should be able to assist you with recognizing, separating, and disposing of both, but remember that, for hazardous waste, responsibility for proper disposal ultimately lies with the generator.

If you have any questions about construction waste management or construction site management in general, contact our team today!