Architect and contractor attitudes to waste minimisation

Around 420 million t of materials are used each year in the construction industry in the UK; however, only 360 million t are incorporated into products. Additionally, construction and demolition activities in the UK generated more than 150 million t of waste in 1998 comprising 40% from the manufacture of products and 60% from site-based activities, including an estimated 13 million t of unused materials. Research has been undertaken to assess UK architects’ and contractors’ attitudes towards waste minimisation, by investigating the integration of waste minimisation strategies into current design processes, examining contractors’ existing waste management practices and establishing responsibilities for, and barriers to, managing waste minimisation. A questionnaire survey based on specific and interrelated organisational waste minimisation issues was conducted with architects and contractors and revealed that very few attempts are made to reduce waste during the design process. On the other hand, the results show that contractors are pursuing a more proactive approach to manage on-site waste production through the development of environmental and waste management policies. The results reveal that poorly defined responsibilities are leading to confusion regarding who should control and monitor waste management. Both architects and contractors are constrained by internal and external factors, such as ‘waste accepted as inevitable’ and lack of interest from clients.