Means of waste minimisation

As identified earlier, damage to materials and products and, therefore, wastage can be caused by one or a combination of the following:

  • poor storage
  • poor handling
  • poor protection
  • over/wrong ordering
  • inappropriate call-off
  • bad stock control
  • lack of training.

Adoption of a Quality Assurance System should encourage employees to think about the construction process and the consequence of their actions on site. Ultimately, this should lead to improved waste minimisation. However, there is still room for improvement in the site management of materials and products. For example, by improving delivery access and allowing 'just in time' delivery, material need not be stored on site ground where the likelihood of damage is maximised, but rather in higher quality conditions off site until required. The use of prefabricated products instead of in-situ construction may in some cases minimise waste both of the constituent materials and supplementary works. Choice of equipment and management of plant can both be conducive towards minimising material losses. Specialised equipment, such as conveyors for bricks to the point of construction, may be justified financially on large sites and effect real savings in terms of materials.

Waste auditing

Waste auditing is an important tool in obtaining reliable information on the exact nature and quantity of the various materials occurring within the construction waste stream. Only once this information has been obtained can a reasonable attempt be made to propose mechanisms and means of minimising the wastes. At present waste auditing exercises are only being undertaken on construction sites in an investigatory/research sense, as outlined in Section 4.2. Waste auditing needs to become a regular or standard practice on all construction sites.

Economics

Site practice will change when the cost of reducing waste is equal to or less than the value of the materials saved as long as the construction industry is aware of this cost equation. Education is required and the issue needs to be addressed in Stage 2.

Constraints to improved practices

Waste minimisation initiatives on construction sites are primarily constrained by a lack of knowledge and experience and the absence of economic necessity. Although many workers realise that waste equals profit loss, implementing a waste minimisation programme requires an initial capital outlay which many are not prepared to pay.

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