Recognizing yourself as an actor when speaking of ‘construction waste reduction’,  may not always be obvious, especially if you are not directly involved in construction or waste management, and considering the complexities of resoure efficiency. However, we are all actors. If affected by the process, you might be defined as a stakeholder; whereas should you be able to contribute to the reduction efforts, you would be a role player – a secondary stakeholder. But regardless of which one you may be, you have an important role to play, and this section can serve as your script.

But firstly, take note of how words can influence how we view and deal with waste, leading to the success or the failure or your performance. For instance, specifying ‘construction waste management’ will draw attention to builder and waste managers, but will the designers (architectural, interior or industrial) consider reducing at the conceptual or design stage. And if in order to facilitate the waste reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery for energy, in this order, then what if the specifications could read ‘materials resource conservancy and efficiency’ or ‘construction waste minimization’.   

While great strides have been made to reduce the environmental, social and economical impacts related to wasted and landfilled construction, renovation and demolition materials, we need to reach all stakeholders and role players, far beyond those currently approached, so that we all and start using a language that will change mindsets. Excess materials (aka waste) are valued resources. The more efficient we can be at extending their life cycle, the less we have to extract, transport and transform essential natural resources, especially those that are non-renewable and/or the cause of global conflicts.

Some would say that wherever construction and demolition waste is part of industrial, commercial and institutional waste, a stream that is handled by the private sector and regulated by the province, as it is in Canada, then the responsibility in fact begins and ends with:

  • The governments who set the rules, regulations, standards and guidelines by which we live and operate, and in which markets flourish or perish.
  • The building owners who ultimately make the decisions of where they will build, the design-build teams they will work with, the project delivery method, the operations and maintenance, etc.
  • The product manufacturers who chose to either lead and engage in ongoing education, research and development, or prefer to lag and “greenwash” their way through this new revolution.

From that point, the design team carries the load, and what guides their principles, design, building material selection, not to mention specification and follow-through will have an immense impact on ensuring waste prevention. Those could all be referred to as “before”actions.

Then comes the contractors, general and trades. Their experience, commitment to a better built environment, respect for the green building design and process, practices, etc, are all factors that are within their control. What may not be unfortunately, can include a fair bidding process or infrastructure. Nevertheless, the construction and demolition is the obvious important “during” actions.

This brings us back at the owner, who depending on the scenario, will be directly or indirectly responsible for the life of the building. At that point, the construction and/or demolition phase is over, and in all non-residential building, the waste is considered IC&I, which for most area is the most important waste stream. So the ongoing actions “After”are  possibly the most impressing factor of all.

And, last but not least, we cannot forget that our own individual mindset and corporate actions will drive markets – Always.

In this following section of web site, we will be providing as much information and tools for stakeholders to use and hopefully help them better understand how they can play a role, and what action they can take to help reduce the flow to landfill respectively.

More information to follow on opportunities, challenges, caution, progress and initiatives.