Tackling waste in construction

Construction companies need to take waste management seriously, since Australia generates more than its fair share of waste…
There’s never been a more important time for construction companies to improve the way they dispose of waste.
Governments, organisations and individuals are working together to build a more sustainable future, but Australia seems to be lagging behind other countries, when it comes to general waste management.
Australia ranks as one of the top ten offenders in the OECD, in regards to generating waste. Worse still, the construction industry is leading the way (but not in a good way), with companies throwing out a third of waste that could be recycled.
Did you know that waste from construction and demolition sites makes up 40 percent
of Australia’s total waste generation? This includes materials such as timber, concrete, plastics, wood, soil and rocks. The good news is that recycling is actually becoming more popular, so much of this gets recycled. Since 2005, there’s been a decline in the amount of waste sent to landfill.
In fact, there’s been a 75 per cent recovery rate in many states that have introduced landfill levies to encourage recycling (NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia).
These levies go a long way in encouraging recycling (by making it more expensive to send waste to landfills), but Queensland and the Northern Territory haven’t introduced landfill levies (the Northern Territory handles a small amount of Australia’s waste, only 1 percent).
Recycling doesn’t work unless state governments make it a commercially viable option. There’s little incentive for companies to recycle, when landfill is the cheapest option for the disposal of many materials.
Although it’s the responsibility of state government to regulate recycling, construction companies can take matters into their own hands, by actively seeking out locations to send their recyclable waste to.
Planet Ark has a useful website called Recycling Near You, which enables people to search for recycling locations across Australia. This includes options for construction and demolitions sites. It’s worth checking out, for those who want to play their part in ethical waste management.
The Australian Government also provides a handy guide on waste minimisation, which is a good place to start.