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  • Mark Luck

Effects of Poor Construction Waste Removal on the Environment

In the construction industry, the production of waste is inevitable. Being an industrial sector that heavily contributes to climate change, there is a lot of pressure on businesses within the industry to do their best to change this and act more sustainably wherever possible.

In doing so, one of the first areas of business that should be tackled is waste disposal. Currently, construction waste accounts for 32% of all waste that’s sent to landfill. As you can imagine, this has numerous negative impacts on the environment. In this article, we’ll discuss these effects in more detail, as well as the ways in which the construction industry can operate their waste management more sustainably.


What Does Poor Construction Waste Clearance Look Like?

Poor waste clearance refers to the improper collection and disposal of construction waste. This predominantly includes sending waste to landfill.

Modern landfill sites typically consist of manmade holes in the ground, known as cells, which are lined with a plastic lining to separate the waste it will collect from the surrounding environment; this cell is then filled with waste that will be compacted to make room for more and create a level surface, before being covered in soil once the cell is full.

Whilst sending large amounts of waste to landfill is seen to be irresponsible, the main irresponsibility in this is to not segregate waste beforehand. Sending waste to landfill isn’t always avoidable, however the amount and type of waste that is sent there can at the very least be reduced.

Certain construction materials, such as glass, metal, wood and concrete, can be reused or recycled, meaning there are more sustainable ways to dispose of them than sending them to landfill. Not taking the time and effort to segregate waste before disposal, then, is considered poor practice.

Similarly, when collecting waste before disposal, it’s important that certain types of waste are not mixed. For example, you cannot mix general inert waste with hazardous waste - doing so would contaminate it and mean it could not be recycled. This is why it’s considered improper to mix all types of construction waste together.

The Negative Environmental Effects

All of these examples of poor waste removal methods are considered poor for one reason in particular - they harm the environment in a number of ways. We’ve listed below some of the prominent impacts that they have.

Increased Greenhouse Gases

High levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the leading contribution to global warming and climate change. As for one of the leading contributors to the levels of greenhouse gases? Improper waste disposal. Especially from landfill.

Waste at landfill can take years to decompose - especially inert, manmade materials, such as plastic. As this waste decomposes, it produces a number of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide and methane. It’s not only landfill sites that generate these gases, but incineration, also - as is the common way to dispose of hazardous waste - which results in the production of carbon dioxide.

The issue with these harmful gases is that they absorb the heat from the sun, thus trapping it in the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space.

These gases then act as a blanket around the earth, with the more of these gases being generated then the more heat that can be absorbed, and the more heat that is absorbed then the hotter the earth’s atmosphere becomes - resulting in global warming.

This has numerous knock-on effects that are not only harmful to the environment, but to our health. These effects include:

●      Rising global temperatures

●      More severe and frequent storms

●      Increased drought

●      A warming, rising ocean

●      Less food resources

●      More health risks (e.g. expanding diseases)

●      Increased poverty and displacement (especially due to weather-related disasters)

Contaminated Soil & Waterways

If inert and hazardous waste isn’t disposed of responsibly, then the toxins it produces as it decomposes can leach into the surrounding soil and local waterway systems and contaminate them. This can severely impact and damage local ecosystems, harming the health of various plant and wildlife species and resulting in dwindling biodiversity.

Damage to fertile soil and drinking sources means these toxins can also have an impact on human health, reducing the number of viable crops that people rely on for food and increasing the chances of people contracting diseases and/or developing health-related issues.

Depletion of Natural Resources

By disposing of waste improperly rather than making the effort to adopt more sustainable practices, there ends up being more reliance on natural resources than there needs to be. Instead, when construction companies choose to recycle and reuse waste material where possible, it gets a second life that can be used in various applications.

By encouraging the production and use of recycled materials, then there will be less need to instead take from natural resources, which are already heavily depleted. Furthermore, the process of extracting said materials uses a lot of energy and produces high amounts of carbon dioxide, further contributing to global warming and affecting the rate of climate change.

How to Combat these Negative Effects

Whilst it’s clear that poor waste management and removal severely impacts the environment in a negative way, there are ways in which construction waste can be disposed of more sustainably in order to combat these effects, which can subsequently help the industry as a whole to reduce its environmental impact.

We’ve listed some of these below.

Sustainable Landfill Sites

Whilst landfill is seen to be the enemy when it comes to waste disposal, modern knowledge and technology means there are actually ways in which we can create landfill sites that operate more sustainably.

For example, rather than allowing the greenhouse gases these sites produce to be released into the atmosphere, they can instead be harnessed and converted into energy. Not only does this reduce levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, but they act as a renewable energy source rather than being the byproduct of a non-renewable fuel source.

Most modern landfill sites are also designed to offer better containment, which reduces the chances of harmful toxins leaching into the surrounding soil.

Waste Segregation

As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to segregate any waste before its disposal. By sorting through construction waste materials and separating inert materials from recyclable ones, the recyclable materials can then be disposed of more responsibly.

Not only does this responsibly dispose of as much waste as possible, it simultaneously reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill or incineration - another form of waste disposal that produces high levels of carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

Reusing & Recycling Materials

Recycling as a form of waste management is much more eco-friendly than landfill sites or incineration, and gives materials a second life-cycle. Similarly, there are certain materials that can’t be recycled, but can easily be repurposed and reused - for example, concrete can be broken down into chips and used as aggregates.

Reusing materials internally within your business not only reduces your impact on the environment, but can also save you money from reducing your need to invest in raw materials.

Recycled Building Materials & Responsible Waste Management Services

When disposing of waste in the construction industry, by law your waste must be disposed of by a licensed contractor. If you’re in need of responsible construction waste disposal services in the South-East, then entrust our help here at Mark Luck Ltd.

We offer a complete waste away and waste disposal service, with a wide range of options designed to suit every requirement no matter how large or small your site is. Whether you require grab bags, grab hire, a tipper truck or something larger, our waste disposal options can be tailored to meet the needs of your site.

We understand the importance of maintaining the environment, which is why we are committed to disposing of any waste we collect as responsibly as possible, and why we are transparent with customers about our policies.

Alongside our waste disposal services, we are also suppliers of quality recycled building materials and aggregates.

For more information on the services we offer to arrange for your free, no obligation quote, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

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