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Building material waste
If you're thinking about renovating your home or building a new home, you can reduce the impact of your building project in a range of ways. Some 35% (7 million tonnes) of building waste goes to landfill each year in Australia; so minimising and recycling your building waste can have a big impact.
The waste and pollution created from manufacturing building materials and products can also be reduced.
When building or renovating, think about what you really need. Larger homes will cost more and require extra resources to build and can cost more to heat and cool. With clever design and planning you may be able to make better use of available space and reduce the need to add on extra rooms.
A waste management plan is a plan that identifies the type of waste that will be generated by a building project and shows how you intend to re-use, recycle or dispose of your waste.
Many local councils require a waste management plan before they will give approval for development or building. They usually require the builder or designer to estimate the total expected amount of waste produced from demolition and construction and nominate a means of disposal including a recycling contractor, recycling waste station or landfill site. The building site plan is often required to show the onsite waste storage facilities during construction and a schedule for delivery or pickup.
Houses built before 1970 often contain lead-based paint which, if disturbed, can be hazardous to your health. If you're doing renovations or maintenance that could disturb paint containing lead, you need to take care to protect yourself, your family or pets from even small amounts of dust or chips of paint.
Lead-contaminated waste needs to be disposed of correctly. Contact your local council or state environmental authority before renovation or building work begins and ask how you should dispose of your lead-contaminated waste. If you have a builder or project manager, discuss this with them.
Recommended precautions and information on waste disposal are outlined in Lead Alert—The six step guide to painting your home and Lead alert facts: Lead in house paint has further information about lead-based paint.
Asbestos was used widely in buildings up until the mid-1980s because of its strength and ability to resist heat and acid. It is no longer allowed to be used in building products for the home.
Asbestos is commonly found under eaves but may also be found as roofing, wall linings and cladding. Generally, home building products containing asbestos are not a health risk but if asbestos is disturbed, fibres may be released into the air and inhaled.
If you are renovating a home that was built before 1990 or if you suspect it has asbestos, contact your local council or state health and environment authority. Always seek professional advice about identifying, removing and disposing of asbestos in your home. It can be difficult to identify and immediate removal is often not the best option.
Embodied energy is the energy consumed to make a product and can include energy needed to:
- mine and process raw materials
- transport raw materials
- manufacture the finished product or parts of the product
- transport the product.
It does not include the energy required to operate a product or power a building.
The most important way to reduce the impact of embodied energy is to design durable and adaptable buildings that can meet changing needs.
Building or renovating homes uses a lot of resources and building materials so it's important to select durable materials and products that will last a long time. This reduces the amount of embodied energy used to make products and reduces the amount of materials going to landfill as waste.
You can also make a big difference to the amount of resources used, pollution generated, and waste sent to landfill by re-using, recycling and buying recycled building materials for your home or renovation. These can be cheaper than new building materials.
There are many building materials and appliances that you can re-use and recycle including windows, doors, roofing tiles and dishwashers.
Talk to your builder about where to recycle building materials. You can also contact your local council about recycling facilities or look at Planet Ark's RecyclingNearYou.
Building materials that can be recycled include:
- gypsum plasterboard
- most glass
- bricks and tiles
Follow our tips for managing building waste.
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