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How to Reduce Waste on Your Construction Site

4 Tips to Cut Out Construction Waste on the Job

When buildings and civil-engineered structures are built, renovated or torn down, the result is a lot of construction and demolition (C&D) debris – 548 million tons to be exact.  So, how can we reduce construction waste? Follow these construction waste disposal methods to prevent reusable materials from ending up in the landfill. 

1. Plan Ahead to Waste Less on Your Work Site

As a project manager, you’re tasked with building a plan before diving into the job. When the project is organized properly, fewer mistakes are made which results in less waste on your construction site. 

  • Measure exactly so you have the right amount of each material. Only order what you need.
  • Conduct regular inventory checks so you know what you have and what you need. Don’t buy extra.
  • Account for potential construction site waste in the planning process. Have reuse and recycle bins on site.
  • Identify materials that can be reused and recycled before the project begins. Make sure all workers know how to sort the waste as it is created.

2. Opt for Deconstruction Before Demolition

A “soft” tear down opposed to a full demolition will give you and your team the opportunity to salvage materials for reuse, thereby reducing waste in construction. Materials like windows, plumbing fixtures, ceiling and floor tiles and large pieces of lumber can be sold to salvage organizations.

Pro Tip: Deconstruction can save you money. If you take the time to deconstruct, you’ll have salvaged materials that can be sold for reuse. If you donate items, you can use it as a tax write-off.

Deconstruction is also better for the environment. It reduces the amount of toxic dust released into the air and heavy metal that seeps into the soil during demolition. Because more items are saved when a building or home is deconstructed, you send significantly less material to the landfill. 

3. Reuse or Donate Materials in Good Condition

Before tossing all of your debris in a construction dumpster to be sent to a landfill, try giving these materials new life by reusing or donating them.

Reuse What You Can

  • Store materials in good condition and use them in another area of the job or in another project.
  • Consult your reuse pile before making more waste. Don’t cut a 16-foot piece of lumber to get a short piece when there are perfectly good short pieces waiting to be used.
  • Scrapped wood can be chipped and used as mulch as long as it’s not stained or painted.

Donate to Local Organizations

  • Doors, hardware, appliances and fixtures can be donated to places like Habitat for Humanity ReStores.
  • Look to see if there are any charity projects where your extra materials can be donated.

4. Recycle What Cannot Be Reused

Implement a strategy to recycle construction waste. Having a recycle bin for workers to toss materials will help you reduce the number of items you toss in your dumpster and reduce the waste your team creates. Items being replaced on a project, like sinks, baths and countertops, can be placed in the recycle bin. The following items can also be recycled: 

  • Metal
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Untreated wood
  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Window glass
  • Carpeting
  • Drywall
  • Asphalt
  • Brick
  • Roofing

Rent a Dumpster for the Rest

As hard as you may try to reduce waste on your construction site, you can’t completely avoid it. For all the things you can’t reuse, donate or recycle, a roll off dumpster is the most efficient disposal option, saving you on valuable time and labor.

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Why Bother Reducing Construction Waste?


The bottom line – the less you have to throw away, the less money you have to spend getting rid of your construction waste. Not to mention, when you donate leftover materials, your company can claim tax benefits on them. When you create a plan to reduce waste on your construction site, the environment, your community and you win.

Visit our post “Common Types of Construction Waste and How to Get Rid of Them” to learn how to create a construction waste management plan to reduce your construction debris.

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