Building materials account for about half of all materials used and about half the solid waste generated worldwide. They have an environmental impact at every step of the building process - extraction of raw materials, processing, manufacturing, transportation, construction and disposal at the end of a building's useful life.
Governments worldwide have responded to the need to reduce waste with regulation and legislation that have framed a market for building materials and products derived from the construction and demolition (C&D) waste stream.
There are now, more than ever, clear opportunities for business and industry to invest in activities that will create profit and improve environmental outcomes by extracting valuable resources from the C&D waste stream.
Figure 1 - A simplistic perspective on the building supply chain
The built environment of the future is being constructed at the beginning of a new ecological era where governments are framing markets with regulation and legislation that respond to the challenges of environmental sustainability, and where industry must respond to the challenges of low-carbon economies and resource depletion.
Businesses that are profiting and growing are adapting to these new challenges and responding with innovations that turn waste into valuable resources to supply the construction industry, which has traditionally been adverse to behavioural change. This guide outlines the opportunities available for effective markets and presents 15 initiatives where companies are profiting and growing while contributing to a more ecologically sustainable built environment.
Aim of the guide
The aim of this guide is to help develop effective markets for materials diverted or derived from the C&D waste stream.
Erratum - 17 January 2012
The case study, Recycling power poles into high-value timber products, on page 34 of the Construction and Demolition Waste Guide, incorrectly attributes the development of protocols for recycling redundant utility poles and bridge timbers in NSW to Kennedy's Timber, Energex and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. The case study should attribute the development of the protocols to the Timber Development Association and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.