ISWA Blog: On a Mission to Tackle Construction & Demolition Waste

Construction and demolition waste in rapidly growing economies is perhaps their fastest growing waste stream, explains David Newman, ISWA President 

david newman, iswa blog Opinion blog David Newman

Construction and demolition waste in rapidly growing economies is perhaps their fastest growing waste stream, explains David Newman, ISWA President…

Travel anywhere in South East Asia, parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Africa and Latin America, and in and around building sites you will see C&D waste piled up, or buried nearby or strewn over the surrounding area.

This is not just stone, brick and aggregates but remains of plastic piping, plastic wrapping, pallets, old parts of torn down buildings like boilers, gypsum board, asbestos linings, old doors and glass- all abandoned in the local environment. And these become points of attraction for local citizens dumping their household waste, or taking the opportunity to clear out unwanted bulky items often fly-dumped at night.

I was thinking of this while reading the Mission 2030 project, whose founder Renee Gratton, is promoting- zero waste in the construction industry by 2030 in Canada.

It is an ambitious project, but one which we have to help push forward as C&D waste is a problem - out of control and often uncontrolled, even in some more developed economies. And even where the waste is collected and taken away from building sites, it usually finishes up in a landfill.

(There are of course great examples of virtuous management of this stream including most developed countries where recycling of aggregates is now commonplace.)

The waste industry has an opportunity to engage pro-actively with the construction industry globally on this issue- consider that volumes usually exceed MSW streams in growing economies- and this is a great opportunity for new business, while ensuring greener building for our communities.

ISWA will sign the Mission 2030 declaration, let's hope it moves everyone forward positively.

David Newman is President of the International Solid Waste Association

More from David

ISWA Blog: The End is Nigh? (Episode 2014)
David Newman, ISWA President explains why in the face of climate change and other threats to humanity such as Ebola, there are reasons to be cheerful about our species’ prospects – and many are to be found in the waste and recycling industry… 

ISWA Blog: Plastic Bag Directive Compromised But Important
David Newman, ISWA President explains why the EU Directive on plastic bags, while a compromise, gives a stimulus to the bio-economy and materials from biobased sources…

VIDEO UPDATE - ISWA Blog: Is 70% Recovery Across the EU Achievable?
David Newman, President of the International Solid Waste Association, questions whether the EU 70% recovery target is economically viable or desirable for Europe, and asks for your feedback on the matter. 

ISWA Blog: Spanish Waste Management and the ‘Molecule of the Future’
Spain is a highly developed country but still lags behind the EU targets – especially it lags behind in source separated collection and composting.