Measuring material wastage on construction sites: a case study of local authority highway projects

Jonathan Swinburne, Chika Udeaja, Neil Tait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The construction industry in the UK is vast. It is one of the largest sectors of the economy with an output of over £100 billion, representing approximately 8% of the country’s GDP. The enormous amount of resources the industry consumes and produces coupled with the large number of construction companies in the market place has resulted in a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the construction industry. Construction produces more than 100 million tonnes of waste a year, representing more than 50% of the total waste production of the country. Of this waste, more than 60 million tonnes goes straight to landfill, three times more than all the domestic waste produced by the UK’s twenty one million homes. Increasing pressure on landfill sites coupled with the growing awareness of the environmental impact of the industry has made the minimisation of construction waste absolutely essential. The research project outlined in this paper attempts to measure material wastage occurring on selected Local Authority highway construction sites. To achieve this, a review will be undertaken to determine the main areas of interest in sustainable construction, construction waste production, and waste minimisation. Primary data will be collected in the form of measurements taken of theoretical and actual quantities of construction materials used during the course of selected highway projects. The results will be used to compare actual on-site material quantities against theoretical material quantities. The difference in these quantities will then be calculated, giving the amount of wastage occurring on site. The findings from this paper are drawn from both the secondary and the primary data analysis and statistical testing. The research concludes by suggesting a waste minimisation strategy for use on highway construction sites to try and reduce, re-use, and recycle the amount of construction waste local authority highway projects generate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBuilt and Natural Environment Research Papers
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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