Putting waste to good use

Nidhi Adlakha writes about the recently announced Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules and how they impact the industry

Updated - April 16, 2016 11:27 am IST

Published - April 15, 2016 03:35 pm IST

NEW DELHI, 27/08/2010: Even as the deadline for clearing up of construction waste and completion of  work for the upcoming Commonwealth Games is nearing, this here is the scene near American Center on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in New Delhi on August 27, 2010.  
Photo: S. Subramanium

NEW DELHI, 27/08/2010: Even as the deadline for clearing up of construction waste and completion of work for the upcoming Commonwealth Games is nearing, this here is the scene near American Center on Kasturba Gandhi Marg in New Delhi on August 27, 2010. Photo: S. Subramanium

In a bid to effectively tackle the issues of pollution and waste management in the construction sector, the Ministry of Environment has, for the first time, notified Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016. Presently, the country generates over 530 million tonnes of waste annually and, with this new rule, the Ministry aims at creating a process to recover, recycle, and reuse this waste. Currently, construction waste is being managed under the existing solid municipal waste management rules, but it will now be dealt with exclusively under the new rules.

Most construction waste is generated around urban agglomerations, and is being disposed in unsustainable ways, says Pavitra Sriprakash, Director and Chief Designer, Shilpa Architects Planners Designers. A 2014 study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) pointed out that construction waste is dumped into landfills, lakes, flood plains, and open areas. “Waste management needs to be done in a step-by-step process — creation, storage at site, transportation to facility, segregation, and disposal,” she says.

As per the new ruling, segregating construction and demolition waste, and depositing it at the collection centres for processing will now be the responsibility of every waste generator. While this may seem to be a hassle for developers, it will pay off in the long run, says city-based architect Xavier Benedict. He says construction costs can be cut by 20 per cent, if on-site waste is recycled.

Though concrete, soil, tiles, steel, wood, plastics, bricks and mortar, constitute construction waste, it is concrete that constitutes almost 50 per cent of it. How can such waste be recycled? Stone can be reused for plinth formation, masonry construction, landscaping, to construct ledges, platforms, and window sills. Recycled concrete aggregate can be used in kerb stones, drain covers, and paving blocks in pedestrian areas. “Rubble waste, which is a mixture of bricks and cement, can be used to lay the sub-floor or to level a site. Plastic pipes can be made into plastic chips and further processed into packing material or storage containers. Steel from beams can easily be melted and recycled. Wood from doors and windows can be re-furbished and used for the same purpose, or as planks to create other furniture,” says Sriprakash.

Managing waste

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) allows the use of non-natural material for construction, but doesn’t have any specific standards for recycled material. This leads to confusion among various agencies and developers, says Chandan Kumar, MD, Vijay Shanthi Builders. But as per a recent CSE announcement, these standards have been amended in January 2016. The announcement states that to eliminate doubt regarding the suitability of C&D waste, BIS has already amended the IS:383, the BIS standard for aggregates (sand and stone used for making concrete). The new standard IS383:2016 Coarse and Fine Aggregate for Concrete - Specification (Third Revision) has been published and notified in January this year. Construction agencies can now use this rule to part-substitute natural sand and aggregate with recycled waste like C&D waste, and steel, iron, and copper slag. The amendment automatically allows use of recycled C&D waste in all products made of concrete.

In addition, as per the new rules stated by the Ministry, ‘large generators’ will have to pay relevant charges for collection, transportation, processing, and disposal. Solid waste generators, developers involved in the demolition and construction of roads, bridges, flyovers, flats, parks, and malls, and who produce over 20 tonnes of solid waste per day, or 300 tonnes per project, are termed as large generators, says Shushmul Maheshwari, chief executive, RNCOS. Holding small-time generators and developers accountable is another challenge that needs to be addressed, but as per the new ruling, no clear guideline has been laid down. It will, however, be the responsibility of the local municipal authority to keep a check on those who dispose waste illegally. Sriprakash says, “Small-scale developers will have to segregate their construction waste on-site and transport it to the aggregating centres that process it at the municipal level. The costs can be partially recovered at the processing centres to be set up by the government; or by allowing them to purchase recycled material at discounted prices.”

Lack of regulation

Large-scale demolition needs space and time to recycle, and if the architect and developer plan and incorporate the strategy in advance, costs can be kept to a minimum. In most cases, however, developers do not spend on demolition, says Benedict. “Developers appoint firms to do the demolition work at low costs; and these companies either dump the waste in water bodies or mix it with municipal solid waste. If the authorities regulate such malpractices as part of the ruling, we can have far more effective solutions,” he says.

In accordance with the new rule, state governments or construction agencies will have to mandatorily procure and utilise 10-20 per cent of the waste material in municipal and government contracts, mainly in non-load bearing applications such as kerb stones, drain covers, and paving blocks.

N. Kalyanaraman, GM-Technical, Navin’s, says, “This rule must be added as a clause in building contracts. Appropriate training is needed for contractors and officials before enforcing the clause. Only then can we reduce on-site pollution and waste being dumped in landfills.” Maheshwari says there should be additional charges for disposal in landfills to encourage recycling. “Segregation at source is a must. Local authorities should be made responsible for the collection, recycling, and disposal of construction waste. If it is outsourced to agencies, costs would be borne by the owner.”

As far as demolition rules are concerned, permission must be acquired from the municipality, with a provision that the owner of the demolished property takes full responsibility of collection, recycling, and disposal of the waste and related expenses. Detailed plans for safe demolition would be required too.

A processing and disposal facility is also likely to come up in the city, and Maheshwari says such an initiative will help convert construction waste into useful raw material for construction, thereby reducing the waste going into landfills. This process will considerably reduce pollution. Besides, as Sriprakash says, “Materials can be upcycled/ recycled and will also be disposed at a central facility.” Here, the waste is crushed, washed, and used to make ready-mix concrete, kerb stones, cement bricks, pavement blocks, hollow bricks, and manufactured sand.

Avikal Somvanshi, Program Officer at CSE, says the new rules are comprehensive; they clearly define the roles of all stakeholders: Waste generators or developers, local authorities, centre and state governments, pollution control boards, standard-making agencies, and recyclers. “The big task will be to get these rules implemented and appropriate resources (financial and human power) allocated to local authorities. This will also require scaling up of capacity-building and recycling infrastructure.”

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