Waste Management Best Practices In Construction
(When Remodeling or Renovating)

In construction, remodeling and renovation projects can be subject to tough budget constraints and most often operate at a hectic pace. Project managers rarely have time to consider all categories on the job site, but when it comes to waste management, they may be ignoring a potentially multi-faceted cost savings opportunity and an environmental opportunity.

The Benefits of Best Practice Waste Management

When reviewing on paper, waste disposal may be under 1% of a construction project’s costs. However, there is more than just the disposal cost that contribute to make up the ”true” expense of waste.

If you take into account the expense of the original materials then add the cost of transportation and storage, in addition to the labor required to fill the dumpster, the true cost of waste in the construction industry is generally quoted to be 10-20 times greater than the disposal cost. Applying this 10-20% factor, the true cost of waste for a construction project can actually be 2% up to 10% of the total project’s costs.

When you couple that with an estimated 13% of raw materials that are discarded unused, on average, this presents a significant opportunity to improve purchasing efficiency and reduce procurement costs through effective waste management processes.

By implementing best practice waste planning on your sites, your business can benefit from:

  • An additional source of income by collecting materials for reuse.
  • Lower procurement and disposal costs by purchasing less material and maximizing dumpster space.
  • Lower liability with safe storage of materials and timely collections which help to keep your sites more tidy.
  • Compliance with all waste management legislation for safe and appropriate management and disposal of site materials.
  • Enhanced business reputation as a responsible, environmentally conscious contractor.
  • Reduced carbon footprint and increased environmental performance.

So … what does it take for your sites to follow best practice waste management?

Design Out Waste

The best way to reduce the amount of waste generated on site is to design it out at the beginning. This means making design decisions that prevent waste from being produced in the first place, increase the amount of recycled content used within the build, and increase the future recyclability of the materials when they reach the end of their life. One recent trend is to work with suppliers who can use the minimum amount of packaging that you require.

Where it’s not possible to plan or design so that waste is avoided on site, then you can still save money and resources by reusing and recycling as much material as possible during the jobs.

Create a Site Waste Management Plan

Using a Site Waste Management Plan (SWMP) on your remodeling and renovation projects provides you with a powerful process to improve waste management performance and reduce costs.

The SWMP has three main purposes:

  • To improve the resource efficiency and profitability of your projects.
  • To increase staff awareness about best practice waste and material management on site.
  • To ensure that your sites remain in compliance with constantly changing waste and recycling legislation.

For a sample Waste Management Plan Worksheet, click here.

Reuse and Recycle All Available Materials

Remodeling or renovation contracts have many opportunities to reuse and recycle more materials . Ways to increase the amount of materials that can be reused include:

  • Designate a storage space to keep unused materials, ready for reuse.
  • Collect lumber and drywall offcuts, half bricks and blocks. Ensure that the entire team knows that these are available for reuse.
  • Coordinate projects so that leftover materials from one can be used on the next.
  • Use a mini crusher and screener to create aggregate from leftover bricks and rubble, reducing disposal costs and aggregate procurement costs.  (Read how effective this can be here.)
  • Identify suppliers who use and collect returnable packaging like pallets and crates.

Ways to increase the volume of materials that can be recycled:

  • Segregate all waste materials and keep hazardous materials out of mixed waste containers. This will reduce disposal costs and increase the value of the end materials.
  • Get your mixed waste container collected by a hauler than can sort the materials at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), instead of dumping it at a landfill site. This can also reduce the cost of disposal.
  • Identify haulers who will recycle each of your waste streams.
  • Track the markets or partner with a company that tracks the markets for materials like wood, metals, & aggregates, to ensure that you are getting fair disposal costs – or rebates.
  • Work with suppliers who use recyclable packaging, or who will take your packaging waste away and recycle it for you.

Concrete is an example of a waste material that many construction sites overlook. Concrete constitutes around 70% of C&D waste, and as it’s heavy, the disposal costs over a remodeling or refurbishing contract can be significant.

Fortunately, concrete doesn’t have to turn to ‘waste.’ If it is not contaminated with trash, wood or reinforcing materials, it can be recycled on site with portable crushers, maximizing efficiency in your workflow and keeping waste disposal and transportation costs down.

Closely Manage Your Haulers

Remodeling and renovation job sites are busy places and if waste builds up, so does your liability in multiple ways. Project managers sometimes have to make emergency call-outs for their dumpsters to be emptied to enable their sites to function safely, however, these are generally much more expensive. Proactive management of your waste volumes and haulers during the project will enable collections to be optimized, generating considerable savings and keeping sites safe and your labor working efficiently.

It is best to schedule waste haulers around peak activity periods to ensure optimal site safety.  Equally, when trucks come to the site to service your dumpsters, they must operate according to site safe working practices.

Beyond the jobsite, effective hauler management also includes auditing their invoices. If sites are using multiple haulers, this means that project managers have to review multiple invoices each month. And considering that 4 out of 5 waste invoices have up to 30% in extra fees or overcharges, it’s imperative that each of these gets reviewed thoroughly, especially if they are not being reviewed by the project managers and simply passed into accounting for processing.


If this all sounds like too much for your project managers to deal with on their own, then you might benefit from the help of an expert waste management company.

National Waste Associates (NWA) has over 200 years of collective experience in the waste industry. We work side-by-side with you as a team who knows your business goals. We apply this experience to identify the best haulers in each market and optimize their service delivery, ensuring timely and safe pick-ups. This ensures that your project managers aren’t pulled away from their main priorities, and keeps your sites on budget, organized, safe and free of waste.

We ensure that all waste materials are managed optimally and disposed of responsibly during construction while identifying how the reuse and recycling of materials can be maximized to reduce disposal and procurement costs for your projects.

Our comprehensive approach to waste management maximizes efficiency and minimizes costs across all job sites at once, so that your project managers can get back to more urgent matters.

If you want to free your project managers from the hassles of waste management, while generating significant savings,
speak to our waste experts today.
Contact us at 1-888-692-5005 ext. 6,
or email us at 

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