Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages: 560-566  
J. Environ. Treat. Tech.  
ISSN: 2309-1185  
Journal weblink:  
Integrated Approach as Sustainable  
Environmental Technique for Managing  
Construction Waste: A Review  
Elamaran Manoharan , Norazli Othman, Roslina Mohammad, Shreeshivadasan  
Chelliapan and Siti Uzairiah Mohd Tobi  
Department of Engineering, Razak Faculty of Technology and Informatics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya  
Petra, 54100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  
Received: 24/11/2019  
Accepted: 11/02/2020  
Published: 20/05/2020  
The construction industry was reported as a major consumer of natural resources worldwide. Almost 60% of the natural  
resources consumed by this industry have caused a lot of environmental impacts on humans and the environment. Among the  
impacts were the disruption of human water sources, changes in the biological ecosystem and disruption of the food supply chain  
among biological factors. Countries around the world have enforced several laws and regulations. Apart from that, waste  
management technologies were formulated by government agencies and the world’s researchers were among initiatives to minimise  
the waste generation rate. Several technologies, such as recycling and recovery technologies were highlighted to be very efficient  
in minimising the waste accumulation rate. This paper discussed an integrated concept for managing construction waste in a  
sustainable manner. The integrated approach has adopted the reuse method, central sorting facilities, recycling facilities, thermal  
treatment facilities and disposal facilities. Implementations of these integrated approaches were able to save the world’s raw  
materials and natural energy sources as well as reducing the impacts of pollution on the environment.  
Keywords: Waste management facilities, Pollution, Sustainable  
BFRs) in electronic plastic waste, copper in wires and  
cables, asbestos in walls and ceilings, mercury in light bulbs  
and fixtures, lead paint, wood preservatives and cement-  
based materials that contain heavy metals. Hazardous  
contaminants in these waste materials will be released into  
various environmental platforms, such as water, soil and air  
when they are disposed of by dumping or simple landfill [4,  
The construction projects have increased tremendously  
in conjunction with Malaysia 2020 Plan. The increases in the  
number of construction projects are due to population  
demand which has led to harmful and negative impacts on  
the ecosystem in terms of waste materials handling. The  
management of construction waste materials, particularly in  
the Malaysian building industry, has become a major  
environmental issue in recent years. Although this issue has  
been discussed by the media, efforts towards minimising the  
waste generations are still few since landfill is the most  
common waste disposal method in the Malaysian  
construction industry. This causes serious impacts to the  
environmental platforms, such as water, air and residual [1,  
]. This is supported by [6] which stated that hazardous  
substances present in construction wastes might lead to  
serious health and environmental risks if they are not  
properly managed. When these materials come in contact  
with water from the rain, surface water or groundwater, the  
hazardous elements may be leached [6].  
On the other hand, attitudes and behaviours regarding  
waste management practices among construction parties  
might influence the impact towards the environment. Based  
on a study conducted by [7] the contractors’ attitudes and  
behaviours regarding waste management practices in  
Malaysia tended to differ according to the grouped size of  
contractors which significantly affected the waste  
management practices. Most construction wastes were  
disposed of at landfills and the contractors did not practice  
As the largest consumer of natural resources, the  
construction industry produces large amounts of waste  
materials into the waste stream [3]. Most of these waste  
materials are either during the construction process or at the  
end of a building life (EoL) which contains hazardous  
substances. These include brominated flame retardant  
Corresponding author: Elamaran Manoharan, Department of Engineering, Razak Faculty of Technology and Informatics,  
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra, 54100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. E-mail:  
Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages: 560-566  
source separation, source reduction, reuse or recycling at  
their construction sites. Moreover, the research stated that  
some contractors disposed of their construction wastes at  
illegal dumpsites due to the distance between site locations  
and designated landfills, which were too far for them to  
travel, consuming some transportation costs and affecting  
their profit margin [2]. Therefore, the enforcement of law  
and regulations with a proper waste management framework  
might urge these contractors to comply with the legislation  
and make use of the established framework to understand the  
right ways of managing wastes. Proper waste management is  
not possible without having the proper awareness and  
knowledge in waste management [8]. This paper will discuss  
the integrated concept for managing construction wastes in a  
sustainable manner.  
Directive, Policy and Regulation  
.1 International Directive, Policy and Regulation  
In most developed countries, construction wastes have  
always been a huge contributor to environmental problems.  
In conjunction with the higher generation rate of  
construction wastes, the European Union is exploring to  
reduce waste materials that will be hazardous to the  
environment and establish certain laws and regulations  
which provide major directions in waste management  
practice and the use of a certain chemical was prohibited.  
Therefore, the concept of waste management hierarchy was  
developed by the European Union Waste Directive and the  
European Commission’s Community Strategy in 1975. The  
waste management hierarchy concept was made up of  
several stages, such as prevention as the priority option,  
followed by reuse, recycling, recovery and finally, the least  
priority was waste disposal. The most desirable option in this  
concept was waste prevention and the main standpoint of this  
concept was to fully utilise all parts of a product and generate  
the lowest amount of waste possible, especially on the  
increasing number of construction wastes around the union  
.1 Construction Waste  
The Malaysian construction industry recorded a total of  
8.6 tonnes of daily construction wastes in 2015 [9]. In  
general, construction wastes can be divided into two forms,  
which are physical wastes and non-physical wastes.  
Examples of physical wastes are concretes, aggregates,  
sands, timbers, metals and plastics that are generated from  
various construction activities. Meanwhile, for non-physical  
wastes time and cost factors are counted [2, 10]. However,  
18]. In South Africa, problems related to construction  
wastes were faced since the past few decades. With an  
increase in the population number, demands for building  
construction were increased and resulted in a higher waste  
generation level [19]. The amount of construction and  
demolition waste generation in this country was accounted  
for as the second highest, next to the non-recyclable  
municipal waste [20]. Therefore, the Government of Africa  
has created the National Waste Management Strategy which  
was later known as the Waste Act, 2008 under the National  
Environmental Management. This legislation was in-charge  
of eliminating the usage of virgin materials, ensuring  
sustainability at the product design stage, resource efficiency  
and prevention of waste materials. Moreover, the  
Government of Africa will review the Waste Act at least  
once in every five years to maintain with current  
transformation and enhancement of laws and regulations  
11] stated that waste materials from construction activities  
were made of inert and non-inert materials. Examples of  
inert waste materials were soil, earth and slurry while non-  
inert mixtures were metal, timber and packaging wastes, as  
agreed by [12]. In addition, [13] mentioned that construction  
waste materials were made up of any building materials that  
needed to be reused or recycled due to damages, non-use,  
excessive or noncompliance with the approved  
specifications for construction.  
Several factors are causing the generation of construction  
wastes, particularly in the Malaysian construction industry.  
Among the factors are improper handling, stacking, cutting  
and storage of building materials, lack of attention being  
paid to measurement of product used, lack of awareness  
about construction during design stage activities and lack of  
interests among contractors. Normally, about 1% 10% of  
purchased materials at sites, depending on the category of  
materials, are left at the sites as wastes [14].  
21]. Every party that was taken into the Waste Act, 2008  
and Act 108 of 1996 by the Republic of South Africa, such  
as waste generators, transporter of waste materials,  
construction parties and landfill managers, need to comply  
with the legislation and follow the roles and responsibilities  
that were entitled [21].  
.2 Hazardous Components in Construction Wastes  
With the huge transformation of the construction industry  
in 2012, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) of  
Hong Kong reported a total of 13,844 tonnes of daily  
construction wastes being dumped at landfills. These were  
due to unpopular on-site waste sorting and common  
practices of contractors in Hong Kong who directly dispose  
of their waste materials at landfills [22]. Several ordinances  
were declared by the Government of Hong Kong in realising  
the seriousness of environmental impacts caused by the  
disposed waste materials at landfills. Among the ordinances  
were Waste Disposal Ordinance (1980), Water pollution  
Control Ordinance (1980), Environmental Impact  
Assessment (EIA) Ordinance (1998), Noise Control  
Ordinance (1989) and Air Pollution Control Ordinance  
The European Waste Catalogue (EWC) has classified  
construction wastes into 38 subcategories. Out of these  
subcategories, 16 were classified as absolute or minor  
hazardous entries [15]. Several types of hazardous entries  
were found in cement-based waste material samples. Among  
the hazardous entries or heavy metals presented were  
chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), arsenic (As), zinc (Zn), mercury  
(Hg) and vanadium (V). Among all presented heavy metals,  
the concentration of Zn was observed as the highest in both  
construction and demolition waste samples. The hazardous  
nature of these waste materials greatly depended on the  
source of the formation area [16,17]. Specifically, it could be  
seen that concrete wastes, which were made up of cement,  
sand and aggregates, were the major waste materials that  
contained hazardous substances, followed by electronic and  
steel wastes.  
(1985) [23].  
It can be concluded that these directives, policies and  
regulations of developed and developing countries in  
Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages: 560-566  
managing construction wastes are using an approach that  
prevents and minimises the generation of wastes, optimises  
recycling and recovery of wastes and the practice of safe  
disposal for the construction wastes.  
and workers will be rewarded based on the amount of  
construction materials that are returned to store after their  
usage at site, without leaving them as waste materials and be  
considered for future usage, such as the half bag of cement,  
remaining reinforcement bars, nails, half-cut woods and  
half-cut bars that can be used for short columns instead of  
slab [32]. Therefore, it is believed that by using the barcode  
system, the amount of construction waste generation at the  
site can be reduced, even until more than 50% and site parties  
are advised to adopt this method for better site management  
[32]. However, studies claimed that the usage of IRP barcode  
system is consuming a lot of time since all material  
movement details in and out of the store are manually  
recorded. Besides, the workers’ attitudes and carelessness  
influence the material recording system [32].  
In accordance with issues on time and workersattitudes,  
[33] suggested the integration of geographical information  
system (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) with the  
barcode system. In detail, GIS is a computer-based system  
while GPS is based on the movement of a satellite around  
the orbit [33]. This system works by the visual information  
captured by GPS on the movement, usage and balance of  
construction materials on-site in the form of triangular or  
particular shape programmed and transmitted into GIS to be  
stored. The GIS data will be analysed and displayed on the  
amount of materials usage and balance that should be  
returned to the site store. The gathered data through GIS and  
GPS systems will be compared with the IRP barcode system  
on materials received and scanned back to the store [33]. The  
implementation of GIS and GPS systems are proven to be  
more efficient in terms of cost and time as compared to a  
single barcode system. However, the initial costs for setting  
up the GIS-GPS-Barcode integrated system are higher, but  
the costs are gradually decreasing with further system  
utilisation [33].  
.2 Local Directive, Policy and Regulation  
Being among the worst type of environmental pollution  
contributors, the construction industry has used up a  
significant amount of virgin materials as input for several  
building processes to produce outputs and solid waste  
materials. Based on the estimated result of the solid waste  
production rate in Kuala Lumpur, the trend showed that the  
generations of solid wastes were increasing at 2% on a yearly  
basis. By considering this issue, the Malaysian Government  
has announced the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing  
Management Act (Act 672) on 30 August 2007. This act was  
enforced on 1 September 2011 as a medium to control,  
reduce, recycle, recover and dispose of solid wastes in the  
right manner without affecting the surrounding environment  
and local communities [24, 25, 26, 27].  
Under the Act 672, the 3Rs (reduce, recycle and recover)  
practices are mandatory for every construction party. Severe  
penalties of non-compliant with regulations were stipulated  
under the act, especially in avoiding solid waste segregation.  
The solid wastes under this act were categorised into  
different types of groups, such as construction solid waste,  
household solid waste, industrial solid waste, institutional  
solid waste, imported solid waste, commercial solid waste  
and public solid waste [28,29]. Even though this act  
mentioned construction solid waste as part of controlled  
solid waste management, the scope of proper construction  
waste management as  
a whole is not enough and  
comprehensive. There is an urgent need to come out with a  
proper framework for each stage of construction waste from  
cradle to grave that can minimise the release of pollutants  
into the environment.  
.2 Recycling  
Tonnes of glass wastes generated in the construction  
Construction Waste Management  
industry are being recycled throughout the world. The  
United Kingdom (UK) has recorded a total of 400,000  
tonnes of recycled glass wastes which can be used for many  
applications in the construction industry. For example,  
recycled glass wastes can be used as glass fibres to enhance  
material properties in terms of strength. In detail, the  
Japanese government practices the usage of recycled glass  
as glass fibres to increase the strength of cement, gypsum  
and products that contain resins [34]. The usage of glass  
fibres will also enhance thermal and acoustic insulation  
properties, particularly for the industrial and commercial  
building constructions. These insulation properties are very  
much needed on the mechanical aspects of a building, such  
as pipe covers, ceiling boards and finishes for the  
auditorium, which can be obtained through a recycled glass  
in the form of glass fibres [34].  
The Government of Hong Kong has shown interest in the  
development of recycling technology for recycled glass  
aggregate as a paving block in the road and building  
infrastructure construction [34]. The usage of recycled glass  
aggregate has numerous advantages in the construction  
processes as this material provides an attractive reflective  
surface upon finished with polishing, decreases the water  
In the world of rapid modernisation, the concern of the  
population has moved from the point of efficiency towards  
environmental impact. It is undeniable that the construction  
industry is among the major waste contributors to the  
nations, causing serious environmental impacts [30, 31].  
Some of the waste materials that are generated through this  
industry hardly to be recycled since these materials are  
highly contaminated during the process of formation and  
assembly. Therefore, with the advancement of technologies,  
these highly contaminated waste materials can be treated in  
some other methods, such as reuse and thermal treatment  
30, 31]. The following subtitles of this paper further  
elaborate on each of the management option and technology.  
.1 Reduce and Reuse  
32] introduced another construction waste management  
technology in terms of the barcode system by using the  
incentive reward programme (IRP). Workers will be  
rewarded according to the number of construction materials  
they have saved from the site activities. Through this  
barcode system, the movement of materials will be recorded  
Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2020, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages: 560-566  
absorption rate for concrete block, particularly at water  
prone areas and provides good resistance for breakage under  
compression [34]. However, the disadvantages of using  
recycled glass aggregate for the paving blocks are lack in  
stability and reaction between alkali-silica. Normally, the  
problem can be resolved with the presence of pulverised fly  
ash to improve the quality before being applied in road and  
building constructions [34]. On the other hand, glass wastes  
at construction sites can be used as a fine aggregate in the  
proportion of concrete for building structures. Apart from  
cement, sand and coarse aggregates, the addition of fine  
glasses in the form of micro-filler for concrete production  
were proven to improve the concrete properties [34]. Sweden  
has adopted this method as an effort to reduce the  
accumulation of glass wastes in the country. The collected  
glass wastes from the construction sites are washed and dried  
before being shaped into the required specification,  
depending on the concrete grade and size of particles. The  
added micro-filler into the concrete batch tends to improve  
the quality of mixing either in the fresh or hardened state  
3.3 Waste to Energy  
Furthermore, waste to energy (WTE) conversion as a  
waste management technology in various sectors has gained  
some attentions among environmental researchers. These  
researchers were stressed by the demand for energy around  
the world due to population growth and economic  
developments [36]. They claimed that the world’s energy  
consumption might increase by 25%34% in the next 20  
years. Therefore, it is advised to promote the WTE  
conversion technology, particularly in the construction  
industry because this industry is believed to generate a huge  
amount of waste materials which could be a source for WTE  
processes [36, 39]. WTE conversion is linked with several  
adjoining technologies, such as incineration, anaerobic  
digestion and pyrolysis. For incineration, it is a well-known  
technology as a substitute for landfill disposing activities.  
This technology is believed to be suitable for almost 90% of  
the waste materials generated worldwide [36]. The amount  
of thermal energy produced through incineration processes  
can be supplied to high fuel consumption industries, such as  
coal mining, power generation plants and automobile  
manufacturers [41]. However, studies found that apart from  
thermal energy producers, the usage of incineration  
technology is generating a certain amount of emissions into  
the environment. Based on this statement, [36] stated that the  
toxic emissions that are released into the environment can be  
reduced to an acceptable level by installing a flue gas  
cleaning system in chimneys.  
On the other hand, for anaerobic digestion technology,  
the presence of temperature of around 65°C with a low  
amount of oxygen could induce a biochemical reaction in  
waste materials, which reduces the amount of waste  
significantly [37]. Throughout this process, some bio-gasses  
are expected to be produced as a by-product which can be  
used for power generation plants, but provided with some  
treatments and modifications [36]. Besides, for pyrolysis  
waste management technology, the waste materials have  
undergone a thermal decomposition in an environment with  
free oxygen supply. The presence of heat energy indirectly  
to the surface of waste materials transform it into three  
different states, such as solid, liquid and gas based on the  
range of temperature from 300°C to 850°C [38]. With higher  
temperature used for the decomposition process, the end  
product would be in gas state, while at lower temperature the  
end product would be in liquid to solid state [39].  
Furthermore, ferrous metals are among waste materials  
that have the highest possibility to be recycled. Ferrous metal  
recycling is considered as a highly developed market  
worldwide as it is most profitable and could achieve 100%  
of the recycling rate [34]. Even the recycled ferrous metals  
from construction sites can undergo several recycling  
processes and can be reused many times to form a scrap  
metal, such as aluminium, copper, brass, iron and steel.  
Since the demands for ferrous metals are increasing yearly,  
the construction industry has widely accepted the usage of  
scrap metals as some of these metals can be used directly to  
the construction activities and can be easily transformed into  
other forms of products through melting and shaping [34].  
The country of the Netherlands has adopted the usage of  
recycled scrap metal around 80% to the local construction  
projects and the wastages from scrap metals usage are fully  
expected to be repeated by recycling at a rate of 100% with  
direct usage at the same or different sites and through  
melting if it failed to be used directly. Besides, the scrap  
metals are well occupied with a higher percentage in the  
formation of steel reinforcement and almost 25% of steel  
segments are built up from recycled scrap [34].  
In terms of concrete wastes, the most common recycling  
technology is through crushing the waste into smaller  
portions as a natural aggregate substitute for the new  
concrete batch in residential and non-residential construction  
projects [34]. The crushed concrete is well used as a sub-  
base layer, backfilling, foundation materials, protection for  
embarkment and as paving stone, depending on the size of  
crushed concrete for the construction activities. The by-  
product of crushed concrete, usually in the form of powder,  
is used as a filler for asphalt concrete and soil stabilisation  
3.4 Landfill  
Since waste disposal activity at landfill is a very  
common method worldwide, several countries have adopted  
the waste landfill technology and system in managing  
disposed wastes. In Japan, landfills are classified into several  
types which include inert landfill, controlled landfill and  
isolated landfill. The types of the landfill would be chosen  
based on waste material classification [40]. For example,  
waste materials that are classified as harmful waste which  
contain heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, mercury and  
cadmium that has potential to affect the environment and  
surrounding populations, are designated to the isolated  
landfill. The structure of an isolated landfill does not permit  
movements of leachate and rainwater since it is build-up  
with high corrosion-resistant materials [40]. On the other  
34]. The rapid global developments that took place in the  
past few decades have opened proficient replacement of  
concrete ingredients with other materials of the similar  
nature and properties, with considerable strength and  
durability [35].