Hazardous Waste in the Construction Industry
Tackling Hazardous Waste in the Construction Industry
The construction industry is responsible for 62 per cent of all waste within the UK, and according to the Environmental Agency, a substantial amount of this is due to the encouragement of inner-city brownfield remediation projects. To address this, the government introduced the Environmental Act in 2021.
This proposed targets to reduce waste, such as discouraging avoidable waste by 2050. Restrictions will be placed on the exportation of substances to countries that are not in the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD). In turn, this will encourage professionals within the construction industry to create sustainable ways of tackling hazardous waste.
Here at Reconomy, sustainability is at the heart of our business operations. Here, we will take a closer look at the nature of hazardous waste and consider whether a circular approach could be the answer to business waste disposal.
Hazardous waste is unrecyclable materials from construction sites. These can be harmful to surround ecosystems and humans, so it is always important to recognise the need for hazardous waste management within construction. Here are three of the hazardous substances in question.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), more commonly known as solvents, are found on almost every construction site. They are useful for dissolving or diluting substances, but some contain a harmful substance called dichloromethane (DCM). As a result, when disposing of solvents, professionals must consider the Hazardous Waste Regulation (2005).
Asbestos is microscopic fibres that are commonly found in homes built before 2000. It is one of the most hazardous substances found on construction sites, so professionals must always contact specialist asbestos removal services. The Reconomy team are trained to properly conduct asbestos disposal without breathing harmful fumes and contaminating local ecosystems.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PBC)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) come in several forms, from black liquids to yellow solids. They are currently banned in the UK, although professionals may use transformers that contain less than 0.005% by weight of PCBs until 2025. PCBs can cause cancer in animals, so they must be disposed of correctly.
The construction industry
Recycling may be the solution to tackling hazardous waste in the construction industry. This process enables companies to adopt a circular process to waste management, reducing unnecessary waste through the design, production, and disposal process. Not only is prioritising the circular economy beneficial for the environment, but recycling also reduces the costs of purchasing new materials. Here are two common methods of recycling hazardous waste.
In order to recycle liquid-based hazardous waste, sustainable waste management companies may use the water treatment method. This extracts water from acid, oily water, and latex paint, before reusing it on industrial sites.
Solvents (VOCs) are recycled through solvent distillation. The process filters hazardous liquids, distilling hazardous vapours and preserving any non-toxic vapours. These are then redistributed in industrial sites.
The construction industry will continue to create waste. These circular processes help the environment and businesses by producing new materials for use. Moving forward, we must continue to put sustainability at the forefront of waste management and strive to use this model for substances beyond solvents and polychlorinated biphenyls.