What are Construction Waste and Demolition Waste

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Construction waste are often unwanted building materials

What is Construction and Demolition Waste?

The many Environmental Protection Authorities around Australia all have definitions of construction and demolition waste. Here is a good example of one of the definitions, the NSW description of Construction and demolition waste:

Construction and demolition activities can generate a wide range of different waste materials. This waste is not just rubbish and unwanted material, but also includes

  • excavated material such as rock and soil

  • waste asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber and vegetation

  • asbestos and contaminated soil

These definitions rarely reflect what waste management or skip bin companies consider construction waste or demolition waste. The trends today are all about separating different types of waste materials so asd much as possible can be recycling and/or reused.

Conflicting definitions of waste types

No waste management business wants their customers mixing asbestos with other materials as all that does is increase the volume of material that is hazardous. And once you have mixed hazardous material it is very difficult to separate them to produce safe materials that can be reused or recycled. Currently the only way to dispose of hazardous waste is to bury it at landfill sites that are licenced to take hazardous materials (and not all landfils can take all waste types).


Construction Waste Management

Building contractors in the construction industry are required to lodge waste disposal plans that outline how waste from construction site are to be removed and any processing that is going to occur. The purpose of these waste management plans is to protect the environment, human health

Construction waste is likely to contain concrete, bricks and other general wastes like off-cuts from tiles and timber or packaging from a wide range of products that are used in building homes, office, factories and other construction projects.

Waste management and skip bin companies often refer to construction watse as building waste or heavy mixed waste.

Construction sites are required to have a waste management plan to make sure illegal dumping is minimised. The vast majority of site managers take waste management seriously and produce and submitted these plans to local governments. Councils don't waste rubbish illegally dumped.

Demolition Waste Management Plans

Demolitions materials often differ from waste materials from current day construction projects because new materials have evolved to make it easier and quicker to build and is less hazardous.

In the past homes (and office blocks) were built using hazardous asbestos cladding. The hazardous materials need to be removed and disposed of separately from other waste materials. The hazardous waste needs to be safely wrapped in double layers of buildiers plastic to make it safe to transport to speacial landfills.

Demoltion waste management plans will be focused around recycling as much of the waste materials as possible. To recycle unwanted materials is to focus on reducing a project cost. Removing and separating materials like steel, other metal, bricks, concrete into different streams to be recycled. Recycling reusable rubbish means less waste material going to landfills. Natural resources like timber (offcuts), soil, aggregates can also be recycled and reused

Recycled Materials

Waste generated from a building site like bricks are demolition materialsWaste produced from a basic construction site replacing a concrete footpathRecycling concrete will deliver cost savingsManaging waste soil is good for construction industries as it produces top soil for landscaping recreational areas

The issue that gets highlighted here is that in practice while the EPA my categorise Asbestos as construction waste or demolition waste it would rarely if ever be found on a construction site and is far more likely to come from a demoltion site. Next again also with regard to Asbestos waste disposal site don't waste asbestos mixed in with other wastes. The waste facilities for the asbestos waste want it wrapped and packaged for transportation and burial. Mixing asbestos with other wastes just make its disposal a bigger problem using up more precious land-fill resources.

  • Authored By:Stephen Shergold
  • Updated:13/06/2023