How to Create a Construction Waste Management Plan

Aleczander Gamboa

How to Create a Construction Waste Management Plan

Although lean construction principles are fast becoming the norm in the construction industry, excessive materials and waste can still be an issue if A) you haven’t transitioned yet to lean construction principles and B) if you’re working on large-scale projects and a global supply chain, without a process in place to manage your waste throughout the build.

This is where a construction waste management plan comes to the rescue, and in this article, we’re going to delve deeper into its importance, benefits and how to create one for your construction projects.

What is a construction waste management plan?

A construction waste management plan is clear guidelines and processes designed to help remove and reduce waste that occurs throughout a build. 

Typically, the plan is managed by the head contractor, and ideally, the processes are created before the build begins. The best construction waste management plans should include formal processes for salvage, reuse, and recycling. It should also provide detailed information for the clients about how waste is disposed of throughout the build.

Usually, subcontractors would follow a waste management plan set by the head contractor. If subcontractors have sole responsibility for their own waste, it’s best they complete their own waste management plan. A new plan should be prepared for each job and site.

What are the benefits of a construction waste management plan?

The most obvious benefit is reducing pollution to the environment. It’s great to see that many construction companies are starting to implement lean construction methods to reduce waste while increasing their productivity. With a construction waste management plan in place, you’ll be confident in knowing that every material has its purpose, with little to no excess. And even then, if excess and waste do occur, you’ll have guidelines in place to ensure it’s sustainably taken care of – whether that be reusing or recycling the excess materials.

Secondly, from a practical perspective, a waste management plan ensures your on-site environment stays clean, neat and organised. As a result of this, other risks like trip hazards or convoluted workspaces are prevented. 

What should be included in a construction waste management plan, and how do you create one?

As previously mentioned, the plan is best managed by the head contractor assigned to the job site. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to create a construction waste management plan.

Step 1: Designate responsibilities

Choose one person (or a small team) to be responsible for managing the waste on-site. It’s important that whoever is designated to this role has an interest or passion for sustainability and being environmentally friendly, as this ensures the construction waste management plan will be followed during the build.

Step 2: Set goals and objectives

It’s essential to set some goals and objectives for transparency. They don’t have to be granular, they can be straightforward like:

  • Eliminate waste as soon as possible, as a priority
  • Recycle and reuse waste where possible
  • Use lean construction practices for maximum output
  • Use products and materials that reduce waste and can be recycled

The point of this step is to help set the foundations for the construction waste management plan.

Step 3: Estimate how much waste you think might be produced during the build

Forecast the types and percentages of waste that will be produced. Doing this will give you an idea of where your attention should be placed the most when following waste management guidelines. Below is an example: 

MaterialEstimated waste percentages
Fibre-cement board10%

Step 4: Create a recycle and reuse plan for excess materials

We highly recommend the REBRI resource routing calculator to determine what materials will be recycled. 

From there, go through the materials you’ll be using for the build and identify reuse and recycling opportunities for each of them. Try and be as detailed as you can – think about the where, how and when to handle waste materials and put them through your reuse/recycling processes.

If possible, attach a site plan with key areas marked. The key areas can be where the processes will occur or which areas of the job site are likely to produce the most amount of waste.

Step 5: Don’t forget your waste destinations for the construction waste management plan

When waste is produced, it needs to go somewhere. Think about the area you’re in, and from there, do research on the closest local recycled/recovered materials outlets and if there are any opportunities for them to collect waste during your construction build. 

Remember to also add their details to the waste management plan, and ensure you’ve established rapport with these outlets before the build, so they are aware of their role in your plan too.

Step 6: Track progress

Tracking the progress of your waste management plan is important because it shows the following:

  1. What worked versus what didn’t work
  2. How detailed your construction waste management plan was, and what needs to be improved
  3. How correct (or close) were your estimates of waste

And if this is your first time creating a construction waste management plan, don’t be disheartened if the process doesn’t go completely to plan. Creating this process takes time, and with each waste management plan you’ll, the better it will be.

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Matrak was founded in 2017 and provides innovative mobile-first end-to-end supply chain tracking software solutions to the construction industry. We believe in the significant benefits to Site Managers, contractors, developers and construction supply chains generated from data-driven insights through the materials tracking process.

Industry-wide challenges are best solved through collaboration, and Matrak’s material tracking app strives to bring the construction industry together around its most fundamental component – materials.

Our app is available on all iOS, Android and Windows devices and has helped more than 157 projects in over 5 countries to enable the power of supply chain transparency.

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