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The Issue

Designing Waste Out of the System

The construction industry is the world’s largest consumer of resources and raw materials and is estimated to emit half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 40% of raw materials consumed in North America are construction materials (CCME 2019, p. 1). Yet the building industry has largely ignored end-of-life and waste generation when it comes to planning and design.

Not surprisingly, one of Canada’s most significant solid waste streams is construction, renovation and demolition (CRD) waste. The most common CRD waste materials in Canada are wood, asphalt, drywall and concrete. In addition to posing significant human and environmental health risks, managing CRD waste is expensive and highly inefficient, especially given that many landfilled CRD materials still hold value (CCME 2019, p. ii). As the crisis of construction waste emerges as a concern across the globe, it is essential to consider the entire life cycle of assets within the built environment.


AN EVOLVING INDUSTRY

Reducing and Reusing Construction Waste

Construction, Renovation, and Demolition waste is unique in that much of it can be redirected. Estimates indicate that as much as 95% of CRD waste can be diverted through reuse and recycling (CCME 2019). As materials become more scarce in Canada, alternative approaches to divert CRD waste through reuse, recycling, and deconstruction will be relied upon more and more.

While municipalities across the country are increasingly adopting requirements for the reuse and recycling of CRD material, the construction industry is also making significant changes. The National Zero Waste Council works with government and industry to encourage CRD waste prevention and reduction by raising awareness and expanding networks to implement solutions throughout the construction and built environment sector.