Client's guide to cutting waste from construction projects

Cut waste from smaller construction projects


For smaller construction projects - generally projects costing less than £1 million - it is more difficult to implement cost-effective waste reduction techniques.

Key questions you should consider for smaller projects are:

  • What are my priorities - since I don't have the time to do in-depth analysis?
  • How can I get these benefits with minimum effort?
  • How can I check that my project teams are playing their part?

As the client, you can ask your design team to look closely at how waste can be reduced in a number of areas. For example, practical steps can be taken to:

  • reuse existing components
  • reuse excavated or demolished materials
  • avoid unnecessary strip-out and excavation
  • select construction materials with higher recycled content
  • use more prefabricated construction components

You should consider directing your contractors to use more recycled and excavated materials, and make more use of prefabricated materials to reduce overall costs.

If you have a construction portfolio with multiple small projects you should consider what lessons you can apply from one project to another. You should also consider whether you could share resources between projects for greater efficiency - for example, by using excavated materials from one site to build on another.

You could use the design stage to plan a waste reduction strategy and encourage your contractors to take every opportunity to reduce waste - see how to reduce waste in your supply chain.

On-site segregation of waste may be difficult for smaller projects if there is a lack of space. The waste management contractor should be able to advise the principal contractor on which wastes to separate and which can be cost-effectively sorted off site.

When your project is finished, it is important to assess the performance of your design team and the contractors you have used. A fundamental aspect of your review should be how well - or not - your project handled its waste generating and disposal, and what lessons you can learn to apply to your next project.