Use resources efficiently in construction and building trades

Carpentry - how to cut waste and costs

Carpenters and joiners have specific environmental issues to deal with. For example, there are many types of construction timber, all with different environmental impacts. Although natural timber can be sustainably produced and disposed of, it is not very durable (so it is treated with preservatives) or stable (so it is often bonded with glues to laminates). These chemicals can add significantly to the environmental impact of treated products, making timber recycling more difficult.

Knowing where your timber comes from helps you to understand its environmental impact. The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme certifies that timber (both softwood and hardwood) comes from sustainable forests and not from the depletion of tropical rainforests - check if your supplier has FSC certification.

You can reduce your costs and environmental impact through a number of other methods including:

  • knowing how to handle hazardous waste
  • using materials carefully and keeping off-cuts for reuse
  • using mechanical fixings where possible
  • separating your waste
  • packing skips well - a skip can contain up to 70 per cent air because of gaps between waste materials
  • aiming to reduce packaging waste - at the end of a job, up to 35 per cent of waste is packaging
  • making sure pallets are sent back to the manufacturer for reuse
  • using fewer composite boards
  • being aware that dry and wet rot and many boring insects only occur in damp timber - cure the damp and you can avoid problems
  • being aware that insulation reduces the energy needed to warm and cool buildings
  • investigating timber recycling schemes for leftover materials, such as the National Community Wood Recycling Project

You must help to ensure that your waste is properly dealt with - see duty of care for business waste.