Where does all the C&D waste go?

The construction industry plays a huge role in the development of our country. Have you ever wondered where all the waste generated by this industry goes? Urbanisation has become a major factor that contributes to the construction of new buildings. The availability of land, which was previously an abundant resource has now become a scarce commodity due to the staggering growth of the population. City planners are taking up more than they can handle. There are new bridges, roads, commercial & residential buildings and structural facilities everywhere. To accommodate the inhabitants, there is demolition of old buildings and structures. An immense amount of waste is generated by the construction industry in India every day. This waste is classified as Construction and Demolition Waste(C&D) and its management are known as C&D Waste Management. Bricks, concrete waste, stones, topsoil, wood waste, glass, plastic, steel & metal scrapings, building material waste, etc. are all included in this category. Enough attention has not been given to ensure that C&D waste is properly disposed of and the consequences of this can be harmful to human health and the surrounding environment.

Construction and Demolition waste can be classified as

  1. Residential Waste
  2. Industrial Waste
  3. Construction & Demolition
  4. Municipal Waste
  5. Commercial Waste
  6. Agricultural Waste

 Segregation of different kinds of waste

Every year, the amount of waste that is generated under this category is dramatically increased. There are several reasons behind this.

  • As the cities grow, there is a huge rise in the number of construction activities. These activities have a direct effect on the amount of waste that is generated as new structures are built to accommodate the economic growth of the nation.
  • Old structures, footways, bridges, commercial buildings, residential buildings, tunnels, etc. that have outgrown their lifespans have to be brought down to compensate for the construction of new buildings.
  • Buildings that are annihilated during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, etc.
  • Waste that is generated from renovations done in structures.

 Most of the C&D waste that is generated can be generalised as that which comes from the infrastructure sector which includes construction and repair of bridges, roads, pavements, tunnels, etc., and the real estate sector that includes commercial, residential, industrial and demolition of old buildings. An average estimate of the total amount of waste that is generated in both rural and urban areas contributed by the construction industry itself comes up to at least 11-12 million tonnes every year and is steadily increasing with the economic growth of the nation.


There is no such thing as “away”. When we throw away anything, it must go somewhere. - Annie Leonard, Proponent of Sustainability


Recycling and Reuse of C&D waste

 Most of Construction and Demolition waste can be recycled. Many developed nations such as Germany, Japan, USA, UK, France, etc., implement proper C&D waste management practices. In 2016, the Government of India revised the Construction and Demolition Waste Management rules which states that anyone responsible for generating more than 300 tons of construction waste has to adhere to a strict waste management regime where waste should be sorted out into organic, steel, concrete, soil, wood, plastic, cement and mortar and an agency should be appointed for its disposal. 

Recyling & Reuse of C&D waste 

The C & D Waste Management System in India is still in its infancy. Up to 90% of the waste that is produced can be recycled however, improvements have to be made to the structure of an implementation. Most materials that are used for building construction can be reprocessed. Materials such as bricks, plastics, glass and metal scrapings can be reused when they are disposed of properly.

What are the benefits of recycling C&D waste?


  • Recycling waste generated by the construction industry creates huge potential for the recycling industry and promotes sustainable living.
  • Waste that is generated by Construction and demolition, when recycled, reduces the overall harm caused to the environment. 
  • Waste produced by using natural materials such as wood and organic wastes can be used as stock for producing biofuel which can be used as an alternative to diesel and other fossil fuels.
  • Bricks, slabs and other building materials that are not destroyed can be remade depending upon their workability and used on-site thereby reducing the wastage of materials, cutting transportation costs and decreasing the cost of construction.
  • Recycle and reuse of waste from the construction industry reduces the overall load on landfills which take up almost 1/4th of the entire waste generated by the country.
  • Materials such as asphalt and concrete can be salvaged and put to use for maximum efficiency.

 Recycling the overall C&D waste that is generated creates space for economic growth and employment opportunities, especially within the local communities. Waste can be demolished after a thorough process of segregating the materials which also creates new business opportunities. The overall budget for a construction project is reduced because of reusing materials. Inherently, the impact on the environment is balanced because there is lesser extraction of natural resources and a decreased use of space for landfilling wastes.

C&D waste management give room for employment in energy and recycling sectors 

With new technology, manufacturers from the recycling industry can implement well-planned disposal systems for different types of waste. Construction waste is segregated and passed through shredders which reduces it to a consistent size. The next step involves mechanical separation of waste where the components are made into individual fragments thus, the materials with different mass concentration such as wood and glass can be isolated from cement aggregates.

Renewable resources are now gaining more importance. Sustainability is important for the continuity of human civilisation. Energy prices are high in the market. Most of the waste generated by the industrial and real estate sector can be recycled and thereby, also used as an alternative for energy resources. Appropriate measures must be taken to decrease the amount of waste that is transferred to landfills and channel it towards the energy sector.

C&D waste management has to be carefully managed especially since the number of construction activities grows every year. Proper solid waste management implementation will reduce a huge burden on the environment and create mass employment opportunities in both the recycling and energy sector. There is a pressing need to pay attention to this cause to lead our developing nation towards sustainable development.


Please check out:

Gypsum Plaster in Construction