Why You Need to Create a Construction Waste Management Plan

by | Jun 14, 2024

It’s easy to overlook the importance of evaluating your waste situation in day-to-day business scenarios. An effective waste management plan in the construction industry can streamline development/demolition timelines and improve employee productivity. A waste plan allows companies to stay on budget, within a deadline, and keep hazardous waste materials out of vital work areas faster. 

We’ll be diving into how to create a waste stream strategy, what makes a great construction waste management plan, and lay out exactly why they are critical to the success of a construction site. We’ve also created a helpful template to get you started in the right direction as you begin your journey toward a cleaner and more effective work environment.

What is a Construction Waste Management Plan?

A construction waste management plan (CWMP) is a formalized framework outlining the waste that is generated during a construction project from start to finish. The plan targets key people, areas, and vital metrics necessary for the process to run smoothly while simultaneously auditing duties and objectives. Waste management plans are set up and managed to minimize the environmental impact, keep an efficient/cost-effective workplace, and streamline project timelines. 

Think of the plan as a roadmap to success, a wide-angle lens that allows a bigger picture to be assessed and properly prioritized. Additional advantages include environmental compliance with strict industry regulations and concise employee goals that are easy to communicate. 

What Should a Construction Waste Management Plan Include?

The key components of a construction waste management plan include the following:


  • Project Description: A summary of the project, including its scope, location, duration, and key stakeholders.
  • Objectives: The goals of the waste management plan, such as reducing waste, promoting recycling, and complying with local regulations.

Waste Evaluation

  • Types of Waste: Identification of all the various types of waste expected to be generated during the project. Things like concrete, wood, metals, plastics, hazardous materials, etc. anything that will be created on-site.
  • Volume Estimates: Generalized quantities of each waste type expected during different phases of the project.

Waste Management Goals

  • Reduction Targets: Specific targets for reducing waste generation. Typically a number or percentage is associated with reducing overall waste.
  • Reuse and Recycling: Achievable goals for reusing materials and recycling waste (recycling a specific percentage of materials).

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Personnel: Identification of key personnel responsible for implementing and managing the CWMP. These are waste management coordinators, site supervisors, managers, etc.
  • Duties: Specific responsibilities of each team member related to the waste management process.

Waste Handling Procedures

  • Segregation: Procedures for separating different types of waste at the source.
  • Collection: Methods for collecting and transporting waste within the construction site.
  • Storage: Guidelines for temporary storage of waste on-site to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

Disposal Methods and Compaction

  • Recycling Facilities: Information on local recycling facilities that will be used.
  • Compaction Options: How to improve on-site dumpster space and limit the amount of loads scheduled for landfills.
  • Disposal Sites: Approved disposal sites for non-recyclable waste. 
  • Special Handling: Procedures for hazardous waste disposal in compliance with legal requirements.

Monitoring and Reporting

  • Tracking System: Implementation of a system to track waste generation, handling, and disposal. Typically logbooks, excel software, etc.
  • Reporting: Regular reporting on waste management activities and progress towards goals.
  • Audits: Periodic audits to ensure compliance and identify areas for improvement.

Training and Education

  • Training Programs: Training sessions for workers on waste management practices and the importance of waste reduction.
  • Educational Materials: Distribution of educational materials to reinforce best practices.

Review and Improvement

  • Evaluation: Regular evaluation of the CWMP to assess its effectiveness. 
  • Updates: Revisions to the plan as needed based on feedback, new regulations, or changes in project scope.

Regulatory Compliance

  • Laws and Regulations: Ensuring that the CWMP complies with all relevant local, state, and federal regulations.
  • Permits and Approvals: Obtaining any necessary permits or approvals related to specific waste management processes.

Why are Waste Management Plans Important for Construction Sites?

A waste management plan is important for large-scale operational success and can play a major factor in determining how smoothly deadlines, regulations, and goals are met and graded. A well-crafted CWMP can enable businesses to follow the correct steps necessary to move waste streams out of dangerous/hazardous situations efficiently, save the company money, and most importantly keep employees safe and working effectively.

Mastering this process can also empower businesses to receive LEED building certifications that reflect well on the business’s practices and ethics. The LEED framework holds builders accountable for best practices and creates a standard for a positive environmental impact on construction sites.

construction site planning

How to Create a Construction Waste Management Plan

Creating a construction waste management plan looks a little different for everyone but below we’ve highlighted key steps we deemed necessary to the process.

Build a Team

Include an appropriate amount of staff members in this project. A balance between key stakeholders with big-picture goals, managers with on-the-ground expertise, and supervisors who help facilitate the waste objectives will help guide the planning process and keep things running smoothly.

Identify any third-party vendors that could become important players in the CWMP, and responsible for key steps during the project. This could include everyone from the waste hauler, and mobile waste compaction companies, to third-party certification companies.

Obtain Permits

Listing out project permits can be a helpful practice in a CWMP to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal regulations are being met. The specific permits required can vary based on the project’s location, scope, and type of waste generated. Here are some common types of permits that may need to be included:

  • Building and Demolition
  • Waste Disposal 
  • Recycling and Reuse 
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Water and Air Quality 
  • Soil and Erosion Control
  • Special Waste
  • Local and Municipal
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Utility Disconnect

The more detail you can provide about your permits in the plan the better. Things like issuing authorities, permit numbers and expiration dates, conditions and requirements stipulated, and copies of permits or documentation of the approvals.

Identify Landfills for Waste

This portion is important in ensuring the waste streams have appropriate outlets for disposal. Check for viable interests in identifying landfills can also help with selecting third-party hauling companies and creating a schedule that makes sense for the project deadlines. 

Create Waste Generation Benchmarks

Waste generation estimates need to be listed in the plan to track the progress and provide clear reference points to measure the actual waste being generated vs the projected or desired outcomes. 

They also establish a performance standard that can guide the project towards a smaller carbon footprint and strive to achieve the set goals. This will help spot inefficiencies in the process as you compare actual waste data vs the benchmarks.

residential construction site
residential construction site
construction site open-top dumpster

Submit Final Results to Stakeholders

When submitting the results to the leadership team, prepare a report that outlines and follows the sections listed above. You’ll want to include an executive summary that provides a brief overview of the objectives, strategies implemented, and results achieved. Include key data points and explain why the plan was or wasn’t successful. 

Keep this section concise and avoid lofty jargon that could be distracting to the reader or deceptive.

How Smash My Trash Can Help

Smash My Trash can play an important role in almost every construction waste management plan. Our mobile waste compaction service can compact open-top dumpster waste on-site, on-demand, or at scheduled times that work for your deadlines. Additionally, combining Smash My Trash with a sound CWMP can prepare your business for unpredictable environmental regulations. With the help of our environmental modeling data,we can determine how much harmful waste by-product particulates our service has eliminated from the atmosphere.

When it comes to limiting unnecessary waste, avoiding additional trips to the landfill helps our customers with cost control and shrinking their environmental footprint with every project. Ready to start planning a construction waste management plan? Set up a call with a Smash My Trash franchise near you to see how we can fit into your CWMP.

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