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Waste management in residential construction

This policy covers all aspects of HIA’s position in relation to the creation and disposal of waste (building materials) generated during the building process, as well as the need to minimise waste where possible. The policy is based around the principles of HIA’s GreenSmart program.

HIA's Position Statement

  1. HIA supports incentives to industry to proactively encourage industry to minimise waste on site. In all new residential development and renovations HIA supports:
    • plans to avoid or minimise waste on housing construction sites
    • improvements to avoid generating waste such as designing to accommodate standard sizing and accurate estimating and ordering of materials
    • minimisation of waste during building operations
    • the reuse or recycling of waste where practical and
    • efficient and appropriate disposal of unavoidable and excessive waste.
  2. HIA encourages recycling opportunities and reuse of material in the housing industry to achieve a sensible balance between building in an affordable and efficient manner whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
  3. HIA recognises the limitation of regional operations away from major centres or where the volume of waste does not permit the economic recycling of waste. Support from Government is required to encourage opportunities in this area.
  4. In an effort to reduce the amount of waste to landfill, HIA will continue to work with state and local governments and waste management bodies to pursue opportunities for minimizing waste created through housing industry activity.
  5. HIA opposes the use of waste levies as a punitive tool to minimise waste sent to landfill.
  6. Industry and Governments should promote voluntary and self-regulatory methods to produce a higher level of activity and outcomes beyond what is achievable with a minimum regulatory standard.
  7. Governments should:
    • facilitate accurate collation and recording of data at landfill and recovery facilities
    • introduce incentives to companies prepared to conduct life cycle analysis of a material to assist with the creation of better waste data sets
    • encourage recycling and reuse of materials on site
    • establish a national materials inventory as a way of identifying the greatest areas of gain in relation to waste management and
    • introduce initiatives for companies to utilise building solutions that both reduce waste, such as pre-fabricated building elements, and products that utilise minimal packaging.


  • Reducing waste to landfill is a priority activity for all tiers of government and industry in Australia.
  • The challenge for the building and construction industry is to achieve a sensible balance between the need to construct and renovate homes at an affordable cost and in an efficient manner whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
  • Australians are raising their awareness of environmental issues. Recycling at home has become second nature.
  • Waste is a significant visual, environmental and health and safety issue for the housing industry both on-site and post construction.
  • Whilst landfill space is reaching capacity in several metropolitan areas, sending waste to landfill is currently the least expensive option, so that there is not a large economic incentive to change current practices.
  • Waste avoidance and recycling will need to be further implemented in the industry. Re-educating the workforce will take some time and require a commitment to operational change.
  • No single waste management approach guarantees significant waste reduction and cost savings in the housing industry.
  • Life-cycle analysis of products is in its infancy but supporting the industry in leading the way in new innovations and technologies for product recycling and reuse is essential.
  • HIA's GreenSmart initiative assists members to develop innovative and appropriate responses to minimising the impact of the industry on the environment.

Policy endorsed by HIA National Policy Congress: May 2007; Re-endorsed with amdts 2013 & 2018.

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