Wood waste in construction and demolition

Published on: March 21, 2023 Author: Matt Hermann

Wood waste generated from the construction and demolition sector in British Columbia is predominantly landfilled, resulting in missed opportunities for the circular economy, according to a recent study conducted by M.Sc. Matthäus Hermann, 74% of the waste wood produced is being disposed of in landfills, leading to the unnecessary use of new raw materials.

The study found that business owners who utilize only solid wood rather than panel materials are more effective in conserving resources, with waste quantities of only 1.5 – 2% achieved, resulting in lower disposal costs and increased profitability of projects. The study also revealed that engineered wood products, such as GLT, LVL, or CLT, generate little to no wood waste due to being ordered to size.

Furthermore, the survey showed that accepting waste wood at no cost can result in significant savings for the companies. Many business owners expressed a willingness to dispose of residual wood separately and store it in a separate container to achieve further use and cost savings.

To facilitate sustainable, circular wood disposal and reuse, the survey showed that companies prefer a pickup service provided by a reputable transport company and only pay for transportation instead of dropping it off. However, it was noted that the acceptance and adoption of such services would increase from 84% to 92% if legal requirements and regulations changed, and the company could issue all the necessary proofs and certificates.

It is clear from the survey that business owners require cost reductions and savings, without the need for additional time or personnel, to be fully on board with such initiatives. They also require proof that residual wood is being processed and not ending up in landfills. Therefore, for future possibilities to reduce the amount of waste wood in landfills, scientific studies and investigations should be aimed at the usability of demolition material, the traceability of the material origin and the current cascade of the material.

In conclusion, the study highlights the missed opportunities for the circular economy, the environmental impact and CO2 emissions due to the predominant landfilling of wood waste in British Columbia. It is recommended that companies adopt sustainable, circular wood disposal and reuse initiatives to reduce waste and costs. At the same time, scientific investigations should aim at exploring further ways to repurpose demolition material.