In 2010 the amount of construction and demolition waste being recycled was the lowest in the nation at only 29%. There were many reasons for this, but the principal one was the landfill levy. The impact on the environment was enormous with large quantities of materials going to landfill, that could have been reused. At about that time the Waste Authority commenced some new initiatives and this combined with a substantial increase in the landfill levy started to encourage builders to recycle.
Listed below is the amount of waste generated from a typical residential house construction:
There are many ways that this waste can be managed and these can be divided into three key methods. The first is where the builder and their trades place all material in a big pile at the front of the new home and then three or four times throughout the construction this is collected using a truck and bobcat and it is then sent to landfill.
This method is decreasing due to the costs of landfill however it still accounts for a significant part of the market.
The second method is where large skip bins are placed on site and typically three or four 10m3 bins are used during the construction. The trades are requested to place the excess material in the bins. Additionally, trucks and bobcats are used throughout the build to keep the site clean. There are a number of variations on this mode with either smaller or larger bins some are focussed on light waste and recyclables and others with hinged lids. As a result of the recent landfill levy, large quantities of these materials are recycled off-site. That is that they are re-separated and sorted with materials to be crushed and reused where possible.
The third method is at-source-separation and currently, ECR is the only company that seeks to get the trades to separate the material into the correct colour coded bins. As a result of all the initiatives over the last few years the recycling rates in WA are now in excess of 60% and will only increase further.
The challenge will now be to initiate behaviour change so that fewer materials are ordered and therefore less waste material generated.