Seven eco-friendly ways to reduce your building waste (and save some money doing it)

Building an eco-friendly future

You’ve all probably heard the saying “reduce, re-use, recycle” when people talk about creating a sustainable future for our planet. At RHM Construction, we are proud to do our bit for the environment. So, we thought we would share some easy, eco-friendly, ways to reduce your building waste on site. We use these techniques and think that you should too.

Reduce

#1. Reduce what goes to the land fill

Reducing the amount of building material you put in the land fill not only helps the environment, it also saves you money.

An effective and eco-friendly way to decrease recyclable items that end up in the ground is to designate an area for normal recyclable items (your plastic packaging, your drink cans or bottles from smoko etc.). Put up a temporary fence around this area and have it cleared and taken to your local recycling plant once a week. This is a perfect Friday afternoon job for the apprentice.

Re-use

#2. Re-use old building material

One of the biggest skip fillers during a renovation is the old building materials that need to be ripped out. There are some easy ways to minimize the amount of waste that actually ends up in the skip.

When you need to pull up old floorboards or decking, take the little bit of extra time to keep everything in good nick. 99% of the time, you will be able to find a use for it during your next few jobs. This can be a good incentive for potential clients to save a little money on materials when you are quoting a job. Keep it neatly stacked and easily accessible at your yard or storage facility. Again, this is a good one for the apprentice.

#3. Old framing is great for firewood

If you remove any old un-treated hardwood framing, this makes perfect firewood. By spending an hour or so on the drop saw, you can have it all cut into small and manageable pieces. Subsequently, you’ll be sorted for winter. If you don’t have a wood burner or fire place, most people will be more than happy to come and collect it from site and even pay for it.

#4. Eco-friendly way to re-use plasterboard

According to ITM’s building guide to minimise construction waste, plasterboard amounts to 32% of construction waste when looking at total weight. But did you know there are a couple of really handy and eco-friendly ways to re-use it? Plasterboard is made of Gypsum. Gypsum is Calcium Sulphate which is great for breaking down compact soils especially clay. It also helps to reduce the sodium in the soil and increases the calcium. In short, it can be great in the garden. If the project you are working on involves any landscaping, this is an ideal way to re-use your crushed-up plasterboard. You can always keep a few bags for your vegetable garden that you have been meaning to make for the last two years.

Recycle

#5. Scrap metal

For metals, keep these aside in an area out of the way and take them to the scrap yard at the end of each job. You may think that if its not a valuable metal, then it is not worth it. However, you need to keep in mind the space you will be saving in your skip. This in turn saves you money in itself. That being said, if you’d rather not recycle it yourself, leave it somewhere where your plumber can find it. In our experience, it often ends up in the back of their vans anyway!

EXPOL's eco-friendly full circle recycling scheme

Image source: https://www.expol.co.nz/blog/what-were-doing-repurpose-polystyrene-offcuts/

#6. Doing underfloor insulation?

EXPOL off-cuts really build up and can take up a lot of space in your skip. The good news is though, that polystyrene is 100% recyclable. Furthermore, EXPOL are doing an incredible job with their eco-friendly Full Circle Recycling Scheme. Additionally, they will even come and pick up your clean EXPOL offcuts from your building site. More information on EXPOL’s recycling scheme is available on their website.

#7. Public dumping is not eco-friendly

Our last tip is a common scenario that you have all probably seen before. You get to work in the morning and notice that your skip is 3x more full than it was when you left the previous day. Upon closer inspection, you realise that some cheeky member of the public has dumped their household rubbish in there.

There are a couple of ways to minimize the chance of this. When possible temporarily fence off the area around the skip overnight. This limits access to the public and will make anyone think twice about dumping rubbish. Secondly, you can clearly display signs such as ‘No Un-authorised Dumping’. Likewise, this will help to make someone think twice before dumping rubbish there.

Hopefully this can be useful for anyone in our industry looking to work in a more environmentally friendly way. Just keep in mind, all designated areas should be fenced off and out of the way. As a result you will be eliminating hazards and minimizing liability.

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