Recycling in the building industry

Recently, contractors to my local council were replacing pedestrian paths in the area. I asked them if they could fit some extra concrete into their truck following some home renovations I had been doing. I was confronted with “the tip charges us $x per tonne”. I was astounded that a company collecting concrete as often as this would be paying to take concrete to land fill when there were several local companies that would take the material for free. So an internet search began…

In Australia, 40% of all waste is construction and demolition materials (ABS, 2006).  There is no doubt that the cost of sending materials to landfill is not cheap and will continue to increase, so finding viable alternatives makes financial sense as well as reducing wasted material.

There is a significant shift from landfill to recycling across all industries.  Many businesses are discovering the value in recycling materials, and recyclers are providing a greater list of materials that can be recycled. It is common to hear people complaining that it is difficult to know what can be recycled and where recyclables can be sent however it is now easier than ever. A simple search can turn up websites such as the Planet Ark site ‘business recycling’, where you can search by material type to be recycled and also look for recyclers in your area:

Materials such as plasterboard, concrete, glass and fibro are easily recycled and it can be free to do so. In fact some wastes will have companies collect the waste and pay you including clean plastic containers and metals.  It pays to shop around and when you find a reliable recycler, stick with them. 

Recyclers are also offering co-mingled bins, so that all recyclable materials can be placed in the one bin.  This particular set up could be appropriate on small job sites or where space is at a premium.

This Waste Guide provides a practical guide on how to recycle onsite.

So it’s not hard. A little effort and a phone call or two will have most of your waste materials working as they should.