The five Rs work in a hierarchy:
Do not use certain wasteful products or materials at all, such as products that cannot be repaired, reused or recycled, when there are other options available. This also applies to unnecessary or excessive packaging, which is a significant source of construction waste.
On a large scale, ensure a building is no larger than it need be. On a smaller scale, locate a bathroom next to a laundry so hot water pipe length can be reduced.
Keep hold of off-cuts above a certain size and use them when a small piece of material is required. Reuse also applies to whole buildings, relocating them where possible for reuse/refurbishment rather than demolishing them.
Instead of throwing things away at the first sign of a fault and buying a new replacement, repair whenever possible. When buying new products, choose products that can be repaired rather than ones that can only be dumped.
Materials are collected by a salvage company or taken back by a manufacturer to be reprocessed into new product. Materials such as glass, aluminium and steel are all recyclable. In some cases, material is transformed into a different product to the original one. For example, concrete may be crushed and used as aggregate in new concrete or used as a base for paving or roading.
Where none of the five Rs are possible, disposal at a landfill or waste facility is the last resort.
- REBRI easy guide to waste reduction - building products [PDF, 434KB]
- REBRI waste reduction - building products [PDF, 811KB]