The construction industry generates an enormous amount of waste. For example, the average home when built generates around eight thousand pounds of waste. However, builders do have the ability to recycle much of this waste, though that requires labor that few want to put in after a hard day’s work. The alternative is to reduce the amount of waste generated, and this pays off in reduced material costs and landfill fees. Here are four ways to minimize waste on your construction site.
One way to minimize waste on site is to plan from the start how to minimize it. Only buy the materials you need for each project. Then you don’t have leftovers just tossed in the trash. The next step is to organize the construction site layout.
For example, you can group recyclable and salvageable materials together. This reduces the time spent sorting out materials after the fact, and your team knows where they can get salvageable materials to be reworked. For example, ask people to use screen scrap lumber for patches and shims. Have a plan to reuse concrete, gravel and other aggregates instead of buying more dirt.
Reduce Supplier Visits and Logistics
Consider relying on vendor managed inventory. If one or two vendors are supplying the tools and supplies you use, they can combine trips. You’ll also reduce the amount of time your team spends receiving, inspecting and stocking tools, parts, materials and equipment. Rent equipment from the same company for an extended period of time so they don’t have to make so many trips to the jobsite.
You can take steps to reduce overall material handling costs as well. Ask aggregate products to be delivered in bulk instead of in many plastic bags; bulk orders can also save you money on materials. Buy concentrated products where possible to save on shipping costs. Another option is to invest in a baling machine to compress waste materials into manageable bales.
Recycling balers can turn cardboard, foam, cans and other materials into small bales that take up less space and are easier to handle. Vertical balers allow you to have a minimal footprint for the baler while handling a large volume of waste – then your waste management company doesn’t have to make as many trips to the recycling plant or landfill. You can also set up a quality control agreement so that fewer unsuitable or damaged goods are delivered that end up being thrown out or returned to the vendor.
Track Waste Generation
An old business adage says, ‘what gets measured gets managed’. Track how much waste you generate. This allows you to track your progress in reducing waste generation. Track waste generation and disposal from the beginning of the project through the end, because you won’t achieve the desired benefits if you start halfway through the project. A side benefit of tracking the amount of material you reuse or recycle is that you can report it to your customers. It becomes a selling point for your firm. If you can donate items you’re replacing like sinks and baths, you might be able to get a tax rebate for it or improve your LEED score.
The construction industry has many options to reduce waste and encourage recycling. More importantly, the available solutions can save firms time and money, as well as help the planet.