Waste Management in Lean Construction Projects & A Best Practice Checklist

Our waste management checklist will help you apply lean construction principles to improve your waste handling

Improving waste management is imperative for the construction sector. Not only is waste damaging to margins and profitability & according to some estimates, as much as 15% of materials ordered go straight to landfill & but also, the regulatory pressure is mounting. The Government will be pushing construction companies to eliminate landfill waste in the years ahead, and has in the past required them to set out waste management plans as part of project planning.
Lean construction represents a response to these challenges. €œThe allure of lean construction is amazing,€ a leading industry player recently told Construction Dive. €œYou get more with spending less.€ How, though, to introduce the principles of lean construction into your operation in order to manage waste more effectively and efficiently? This best practice checklist provides a range of tips to get going:
1. Think Lean Construction from the Start
The construction industry wouldn’t necessarily be the first sector to spring to mind if you were asked to name a sector that is efficient and non-wasteful. As long ago as 1998, a Government-commissioned report warned that construction staff often worked at half their optimum capacity and that €œat least 10% of materials are wasted€.
More recently, however, the sector’s leaders have come to recognise the importance of lean construction & a process of working that focuses on reducing waste in the broadest sense of the word. This includes physical waste as well as resources dedicated to activities that do not deliver value to the end client. The principle of lean construction is to strip out as much of this waste as possible from the construction process, through a variety of smarter ways of planning and working.
2. Maximise Value, Minimise Waste
Construction businesses making the most of lean construction ideas recognise that maximising value is as important as minimising waste. Waste management will certainly be a crucial element of the latter objective, but lean construction advocates stress the importance of every participant in a project working together to identify where they are adding value. What’s left & in other words, what isn’t adding value & is by definition waste, including physical waste. Managing that waste out of the project is then crucial.
3. Follow the €œFive Ss€
The Associated General Contractors of America suggests breaking the lean construction process down into Five Ss:

Sort & Begin by getting rid of all the non-essentials on a project, whether these are tools, inventory or processes.
Set & Organise what’s left, the essentials, so that they’re easily accessible when they’re needed.
Sweep & Maintain physical tidiness on project sites to improve safety, convenience and performance monitoring.
Standardise & Ensure that repetitive tasks are completed in the same simple way each time, rather than reinventing the wheel on each occasion.
Sustain & Build the first four steps into the company psyche, so people don’t slip back into old habits.


Lean construction means focusing on delivering value and eliminating waste.
Effective waste management is a crucial element of any lean construction process.
Construction companies must improve their productivity: lean construction techniques offer a roadmap for doing so.

Download the full best practice checklist of 10 items now. Download: Waste Management in Lean Construction Projects & A Best Practice Checklist