Students take on construction waste

Friday, 15 May, 2015

Students take on construction waste

Murdoch University has partnered with Master Builders WA, the building and construction industry association, to tackle real-life construction waste issues on building sites.

Six of Murdoch’s environmental engineering students recently visited three Right Homes sites in the Perth metropolitan area, where they reviewed construction waste processes and were tasked with designing new ones to ensure that less waste goes to landfill. If successful, their waste management designs could be utilised by the construction industry.

The industry has been encouraged to increase the recycling of its waste by the recent doubling of the landfill levy rate from $28 per tonne to $55 per tonne for putrescible waste and from $12 up to $60 per m3 for construction and demolition waste. Waste reduction consultant Michael Norriss explained, “In the wake of the levy increase, we want to be able to go out to our members and educate them about the best waste practices available - and this is where the students come in.”

Master Builders WA has provided the students with the appropriate training and protection gear so they can work on-site. Norriss said, “The students will be required to undertake research into how waste is currently disposed of on construction sites, identify what materials can be recycled and investigate the best practices in construction site recycling.

“We want them to recommend recycling practices that are the least time consuming, the cheapest and the most energy efficient. We want them to work with recycling companies to identify recycling opportunities for materials that might not be widely known about or utilised.”

Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, the dean of Murdoch’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, said the project aligned well with the school’s aim of providing students with industry-focused learning experiences to prepare them for the workplace.

“Moreover, such industry partnerships can also be harnessed for higher level research objectives,” said Professor Dlugogorski. “For example, the present investigation could, in future, be progressed to a PhD study of the entire building construction resources supply chain in WA, which is currently of great interest to the Waste Authority of WA as well as to the Master Builders Association.”

The project will last for three months and the students will present their ideas to Right Homes and Master Builders WA in June. Norriss said, “We hope any changes made to [Right Homes’] practices because of the students’ work will filter down to the rest of the industry.”

Image credit: Master Builders WA.

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