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Trash Talk: The Construction Industry's Waste Management Strategies

Updated: Apr 27


architects in the field, yellow hard hats, green and red vests

As the nation's infrastructure continues to evolve, an undeniable challenge looms large in the Philippine construction industry. The accumulation of construction debris has become a pressing concern. As of 2022, the local construction sector had an annual growth rate of 9.2%, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. This rate continues to increase due to the government’s initiatives, such as the Build Better More Program.


Although this growth has made the local construction industry one of the country’s biggest economic growth contributors, it has also produced a lot of building waste on our end. How do construction firms manage their waste?


A study by Dimaculangan, EP (2023) investigates the industry’s construction waste management initiatives. At least 26 strategies are implemented in the construction industry, and these can be grouped into six major groups: information technology, policy, design, operations, knowledge, and procurement. Let’s take a closer look at each group.


Information Technology Based

The construction industry has used technological advancement to its advantage, especially when developing innovative solutions. However, did you know that it can also be used for construction and demolition waste management?


IT-based processes, such as building information modeling (BIM), simulation techniques, and big data (BD), can be used by the industry in waste minimization and management. By leveraging advanced technology solutions, construction firms, and stakeholders can effectively monitor, track, and optimize waste management processes, improving efficiency, cost savings, and reducing environmental impact.


Policy Based

Policy-based initiatives aim to promote sustainable practices, reduce waste generation, encourage recycling and reuse, and minimize the environmental impact of construction activities. Many countries across the globe have already implemented government-led policies regarding construction waste management. One highly adopted policy worldwide is the Polluter-Pays-Principle (PPP), which holds contractors accountable and puts an economic restraint on them for their environmental impacts.


Many countries also increased the tax on raw materials to promote alternative and recycled construction materials. An example would be The European Commission’s technical specification, EN 12620:20 02 + A1:2008, which encourages using recycled materials as aggregates. Similarly, Japan has also developed a set of standards for recycling aggregates as filler construction material, resulting in a recycling rate of 97%, as cited in the study of Dimaculangan, EP (2023).


Design Based

Many studies have argued that poor design plans are one of the main contributors to construction waste. Design-based construction waste approaches involve incorporating waste management principles and strategies into the design process to minimize waste generation, promote recycling and reuse, and optimize the use of materials throughout the project lifecycle. Dimaculangan suggests incorporating innovative technologies and methodologies in designing local construction project development services to help reduce waste. The deconstruction design method, which entails reusing and recycling materials throughout the project, also helps minimize the overall waste produced by construction.


Operations Based

This approach focuses on waste reduction, recycling, and responsible disposal during the operational phase of construction projects. It involves implementing strategies and practices on-site to manage and mitigate construction waste effectively. Many researchers believe that adopting the lean construction methodology will significantly reduce waste as this method creates value through process improvement and reduces material wastage during operations.


Moreover, Reverse Logistics (RL) also aids in proper waste disposal. This method monitors, integrates, and organizes material waste from the start of operations to the final disposal and recapturing value. This, in turn, ensures proper waste disposal and a more sustainable construction project.


Knowledge-Based

Knowledge-based strategies emphasize the importance of knowledge sharing, collaboration, and learning to address construction waste challenges. This approach recognizes that knowledge is powerful in driving effective waste management strategies. There is a dire need for more knowledge-based waste management strategies, as the lack of proper knowledge and awareness of the effects of construction waste remains a big issue in the construction sector of the Philippines. Dimaculangan suggests implementing more waste disposal training for workers, establishing more research centers dedicated to construction waste management, and developing more proper waste disposal methods through research.


Procurement Based

This method aims to minimize waste generation and maximize resource efficiency from the earliest stages of a construction project. Since construction waste can be generated as early as the procurement stage of a project, procurement-based management methods emphasize selecting and sourcing materials, equipment, and services that promote waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability. Construction projects can promote responsible material selection, packaging practices, and supplier collaboration by integrating waste reduction and sustainability criteria into procurement decisions. This approach helps drive positive change throughout the supply chain and reduces construction waste.


Sustainable Blueprints for a Waste-Free Future

As the construction sector in the Philippines experiences exponential growth, the challenges of waste accumulation demand innovative solutions. Dimaculangan's study sheds light on 26 strategies employed by local construction firms, grouped into six major categories: information technology, policy, design, operations, knowledge, and procurement.


Through these comprehensive strategies, the construction industry paves the way for a future where waste is minimized, resources are conserved, and sustainable practices become ingrained in every facet of construction.


Waste less, build more! As a leading construction project management company in the Philippines, JCVA is dedicated to making a mark in the construction industry by building sustainably. Contact us at info@jcvassociates.ph or visit https://www.jcvassociates.ph/ehs-consultancy to learn about our Environment, Healthy, and Safety consultancy services.


Source:

Dimaculangan, EP. (2023). Current construction and demolition waste management strategies for Philippine construction sector – A systematic literature review. J Sustain Const Mater Technol, 8(1), 66–77.


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