The Roadmap to Reducing Construction Waste

A recent article published in Sustainability presented a roadmap for reducing construction waste (CW) in developing countries such as Türkiye through a systematic literature review and surveys with the construction stakeholders.

The Roadmap to Reducing Construction Waste
Roadmap to CW reduction. (* This sign refers to items of solution). Image Credit: https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/16/12/5057

Background

The rapid advancement of the global infrastructure has inevitably increased the amount of CW in the construction sector. CW adds no value to the project but incurs direct and indirect expenditures. In addition to monetary loss, CW increases resource consumption and has disastrous effects on urban survival and sustainability.

For the above reasons, construction waste management has become a critical concern at the global level, including in developed and developing nations. Several strategies have been developed to reduce and manage CW, which is imperative to promote sustainable urban development.

However, an effective roadmap for CW reduction has not been proposed in the construction management and architecture domain. Thus, this study focused on determining criteria for minimizing the factors affecting CW and classified the proposed solutions in the short, medium, and long term.

Methods

The researchers adopted a three-stage framework to determine the root causes of waste in the construction industry and recommend comprehensive solutions integrated with time.

Stage one of the study focused on identifying the causes of CW in the construction sector through a systematic literature review (SLR). Instead of limiting the review to specific journals, the Web of Science (WoS) database was utilized to cast a wider net. This approach led to the selection of 112 articles that directly addressed the causes of CW. The insights from these articles helped categorize the causes into seven primary groups: design, supply chain, material transportation, planning and management, storage, construction, human resources, and external factors.

In the second stage, a survey was conducted using a questionnaire designed on a 5-point Likert scale. This questionnaire was based on the causes of CW identified in the SLR. The focus was to evaluate the universal causes of CW, specifically within the Turkish construction industry. Responses were collected through an online survey and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22.0. This analysis included calculating the reliability of the responses and determining the normalized mean value (NMV) of each cause.

The third stage involved the creation of a comprehensive road map for mitigating CW over the short, medium, and long term. This roadmap incorporated various tools and processes to outline multiple technological pathways that could be pursued to achieve specific performance goals. This strategic framework was designed to guide efforts in reducing CW effectively through targeted actions and technological solutions.

Results and Discussion

The three-stage framework led to the development of four strategic approaches to create a comprehensive roadmap for CW reduction. The strategies were differentiated based on the timeline for implementation: short-term, medium-term, and long-term.

Short-Term Strategy

Initially, the framework considered the impact of COVID-19, addressing the need to prevent its influence from embedding into construction practices permanently. Immediate actions focused on eradicating inefficient design and planning parameters known to generate CW. This involved adopting advanced design strategies and quality management methods early in construction projects to prevent waste generation from the outset.

Medium-Term Strategy

In the medium term, the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and other digital tools was advocated to enhance information flow and decision-making under the design parameter. An integrated management framework, along with the use of advanced information technologies, was recommended to optimize the supply chain. For material transportation, the strategy included selecting expert equipment, conducting frequent inspections, and employing intelligent storage systems to minimize waste. Effective project planning and management were to be supported by the development of advanced inventory systems, new management plans, and the use of precise reporting and communication technologies.

Material Storage and Construction Operations

The approach for improving material storage involved developing innovative storage devices, such as boxes with sliding systems, and promoting the use of building certification systems. During construction, regular maintenance of equipment and the development of fault prediction models were recommended to reduce downtime and waste. Additionally, a Training Within Industry (TWI) program was suggested to enhance the skills of human resources involved in construction.

Long-Term Strategy

For the long-term, integrating BIM into undergraduate curricula for architecture and civil engineering was proposed to foster a new construction culture adept at managing and minimizing CW. Transport strategies were to be refined to include the use of efficient equipment backed by intensive feasibility studies to ensure optimal deployment. Moreover, comprehensive training programs aimed at increasing professional literacy and reducing CW were recommended for the skilled workforce.

Through these layered strategies, the framework aims to systematically address and mitigate CW at different stages of the construction process, ultimately fostering a more sustainable and efficient construction industry.

Conclusion

Overall, the researchers followed three steps to create a CW mitigation roadmap. This approach began with a SLR to gather and analyze existing data on CW causes from the WoS database. The second step involved conducting online surveys with key stakeholders in the construction industry to assess the importance and criticality of identified CW causes. The data from these surveys was crucial in aligning the severity and urgency of the CW causes with the proposed short-, medium-, and long-term strategies in the roadmap.

Typically used in the development of new technologies, the roadmap method was adapted here for problem-solving in CW management, a novel application, according to the researchers. This strategic framework aimed to sequentially address the multifaceted challenges of CW through targeted actions tailored to different stages of implementation.

Despite its innovative approach, the study faced limitations due to its exclusive reliance on the WoS database. Future research could enhance the robustness and applicability of findings by incorporating data from other databases such as Scopus and Google Scholar. Furthermore, while the study provided detailed insights into CW management in Turkey, its findings might not be directly applicable to other developing countries with different economic and sociocultural contexts. Nevertheless, the methodologies and strategies outlined in this study could serve as a valuable reference for similar CW management challenges elsewhere.

Journal Reference

Anaç, M., Ayalp, G. G., & Bakan, M. K. (2024). A Roadmap for Reducing Construction Waste for Developing Countries. Sustainability, 16(12), 5057–5057. https://doi.org/10.3390/su16125057, https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/16/12/505

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Article Revisions

  • Jun 21 2024 - Title changed from "Roadmap to Reduce Construction Waste in Türkiye" to "The Roadmap to Reducing Construction Waste"
Nidhi Dhull

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Nidhi Dhull

Nidhi Dhull is a freelance scientific writer, editor, and reviewer with a PhD in Physics. Nidhi has an extensive research experience in material sciences. Her research has been mainly focused on biosensing applications of thin films. During her Ph.D., she developed a noninvasive immunosensor for cortisol hormone and a paper-based biosensor for E. coli bacteria. Her works have been published in reputed journals of publishers like Elsevier and Taylor & Francis. She has also made a significant contribution to some pending patents.  

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