CONSTRUCTION WASTE CAN BE CATEGORIZED INTO 7 MAIN TYPES

  • Over Production
  • Delays
  • Excess Transport
  • Excess Motion
  • Over-Processing
  • Inventory
  • Correction (Rework)

Recently, as part of my Quality Control in Construction Projects, I had my students answer the following question: Provide examples of construction waste that you have personally observed and what you did to reduce it or eliminate it.

Below are their answers. Keep in mind that these are not super experienced construction managers even though they are seeking their CM degree they have some field experience. My point here is see how they think, their personal observations, and their attempts at reducing and or eliminating waste. The planet is limited in the amount of resources it can sustainably provide to the construction industry. Pay attention to these mostly young professionals. They might have good ideas to save you money, save the planet’s resources, and reduce the amount of debris that goes into our landfills.

Student Answers

I have not had any experience with construction waste as I have never personally dealt with a construction project. However, anyone could argue that these presented construction wastes exist within many other fields of work and can be applied as such. In my time working at movie theaters, I’ve dealt with “correction” and “over-production” the most.

Correction: a very common issue I’ve faced as a supervisor of a concession stand is turning away incorrectly prepared food. The employees would not cook it enough or there would be some other issue with it where it didn’t meet the standard. The way I eliminated this was simple, I provided re-training and also set a clear standard. I also showed them how they can check the internal temperature of the food to ensure it is cooked well. 

Over production: another waste I have faced would be over production. Simply put, too much food at the end of the night results in lost profits from throwing away food and pure waste in general. The only way I found to combat this was to closely monitor the projected amount of guests that may be coming into the theater by the end of the night, and preparing food to order instead of prepping too much before hand. 

Delays: Reduce delays by providing contractors with RFI responses or submittal approvals as quickly as possible.

Correction: Reduce field corrections by assigning a superintendent to group of contractors and make sure that they are building the correct design.

Another example is was inventory waste on a renovation at University of Florida. The superintendent and I worked together to figure out what the inventory was and find its proper location. I believe we found that it was more than needed as well. 

With my family company back in Venezuela, we used a lot of wood that was trashed at the end of the construction project, such as; wooden edges, or parts or wood that were not cut correctly. My father and his partner got this really great idea to recycle it. They created a company that was nonprofit. They built chairs, tables, boards, and all kind of products for schools with the leftover wood to donate it to the less fortunate in my country Venezuela.

These panels are extremely heavy and fragile so when placing it on the stairs they tend to get banged up and shatter. Another waste is when plumbing, if a glue joint is done improperly (human error) that whole section must be cut out and redone. One done wrong here and it can become costly in the long run! Ways to eliminate this is make sure you have properly trained manpower and tools to get the job done.

A contractor was remolding our bathroom and order way too much tile and I noticed it so I hid a few boxes and he was forced to use what he had and I returned the rest for a credit.

During one of the projects I was involved in, the framers were installing the metal framing and cutting full length of studs into the sizes that were required and I noticed that some studs that were cut off 12″-24″ were being thrown away. I stopped them immediately and advise to stack them to the side, organize and use them as bracing where they seem fit instead of throwing them and wasting material that can be clearly used.

I had an issue with some waterproofing material, unfortunately the Super ordered a little too much material. Once we realized that we didn’t need that much and since we were going to get charged a re-stocking fee I had to think of something to do with it. Certainly we were very close to lose that inventory, but thankfully we had another project that also used the same kind of waterproofing. We were able to move the extra inventory to the other project and avoided extra fees. And save money on the other project.

When participating in an internship for a plaza being built, there was a high percentage of waste of a Italian clay tile that had a super long lead time. The reason that the waste was so high was because of its brittle nature. The installation team was given a short day class on techniques on how to handle and install the tiles with minimal to no damage to the material. This course was provided by the manufacturer at no cost.

There was also a specific time in which we had to wait while on the job for representatives of a roofing material to come to the job site because the material wasn’t performing as it should have and was creating bubbles inside the sheets of modified bitumen.

Correction and Delays are probably the most common and most frequent types of construction waste on a project. I remember one time a plumber thought he got a final on a unit so that we could hang drywall and he was our last final for our MEP’s so we hung the very next day. Our plumbing inspector noticed there was no signature for that unit and made us tear down all of the drywall to see the water pipping. This is an example of correction in my opinion because had this been well documented the first time we wouldn’t have to go back and redo the inspection. Lack of supervision was also to blame.

The next time we worked for this GC we had the same issue, except this time, instead of throwing away the used formwork, we decided to clean it, use it for mud sills, work tables, and in some cases for formwork for the following lift.

One example of construction waste is Correction: During punch out, there was a need to correct a crooked wall and they had to tear out a 3’ tall, 35’ long wall and replace it because it was off a couple inches. This had to be corrected so there wasn’t much I could do to reduce or eliminate it.

Excess motion is another example: I witnessed tile installers repeatedly going up to the second floor to get more tile and I instructed them to move pallets down next to where they were working for efficiency.

Correction and Delays are probably the most common and most frequent types of construction waste on a project. I remember one time a plumber thought he got a final on a unit so that we could hang drywall and he was our last final for our MEP’s so we hung the very next day. Our plumbing inspector noticed there was no signature for that unit and made us tear down all of the drywall to see the water pipping. This is an example of correction in my opinion because had this been well documented the first time we wouldn’t have to go back and redo the inspection. Lack of supervision was also to blame.

My first construction project I got to see how much wasted material there was. Instead of throwing the waste away I had my team salvage pieces of debris, such as; wood for example. So later we could use the salvaged debris in the construction, such as wood blocking for example. All metals were cashed in and distributed to the team.

For an example, I observed that when a contractor must make corrections, they will usually get a change order which can cause delays and an increase to the budget of a project.