On the issue of waste in construction, Resource’s Allan Sandilands suggests that the lack of media coverage is a contributing factor to the limited public response to the sector’s waste problem. Where plastic pollution has been heavily documented in regard to its effects on wildlife, Sandilands notes no such coverage has occurred for the construction industry, which he refers to a the “silent sector”.
MDF is widely used in the walls of buildings and has so far proven hard to recycle. Credit: Pxhere, licensed under CC0
‘At the end of the building or renovating you probably have fibreboard as waste and, at this point, it’s not recyclable—it’s only burnt or landfilled,’ explained Dr. Vanreppelen. ‘But we’ve developed a process to use it to make a product called activated carbon, which is used as a filter in water purifiers or gas masks.’
The eclectic-looking Scavenger Studio was made from reclaimed materials. Photos by Ben Benscheider via Designboom
This modern cabin in Puget Sound, Washington, incorporates a hodgepodge of reclaimed materials from homes about to be demolished, creating an eclectic forest retreat that is anything but ordinary.
Every industry has a part to play in climate change and the construction industry is no different. In a 2011 report on construction and demolition waste, it was reported that ‘buildings and their users are responsible for almost a quarter of Australia’s greenhouse emissions’, of which ‘choice of materials and design principles has a significant […] impact on the energy required to construct a building.’
Approximately 42 per cent of solid waste in Australia is generated in the building industry. Waste in the construction industry affects everyone and the importance of re-using and recycling this waste cannot be emphasised enough.
Henderson said getting people to recycle more isn’t the issue. About three-quarters of all waste from construction and demolition are already being recycled. Rather, it’s the capacity limitations of the region’s 12 recycling facilities that’s now emerging as a concern.
Harvest Power CEO Christian Kasper says his New Westminster construction and demolition waste facility is operating at capacity. (Jared Thomas/CBC)
Waste from construction and demolition sites are piling up so quickly that recycling facilities say they’re having a tough time keeping up with demand.
“This [New Westminster] facility receives about 500 tones per day, that’s our maximum permitted capacity and that is what we are taking in right now.”
“Why don’t you take that garbage and put it in your backyard,” one resident shouted at Bellefontaine.
Kiann Management wants to rezone 38-acres of land along Highway 7 and use it to sort and recycle construction and demolition waste.
Designer Henry Baumann has created an incredible series of sculptural lamps and chairs by recycling big wooden cable drums often found on building sites.
Building on the original tool which launched in November 2012, the updated version enables users to post materials online for exchange and reuse, in the hopes of extending material life, diverting waste from landfill, and reducing the costs of disposal and material purchasing.
Updates to the tool include a new mobile-enabled version for ‘easy access when out and about’, easier uploading capability, and an option that allows materials to be offered for a company’s internal use (rather than to all users).
It is hoped the tool will help tackle the 7.4 million tonnes of waste produced by the Scottish construction industry each year.
Iain Gulland, Director of Zero Waste Scotland said of the tool: “The construction industry has already made significant progress in reducing the amount of waste being produced, however there’s still more to be done and this tool can help to target the materials left over at the end of the construction process.
“Not only does this make environmental sense, it can also save companies money, minimising landfill charges and reducing waste management costs.
“I hope that construction companies across Scotland will make use of this invaluable new tool, helping us to reduce waste in the industry and move towards becoming a zero waste society.”