Measuring site waste by material

We investigated the actual quantities of waste generated during construction of a large new building for the University of Manchester.

What types of waste were generated?

The total construction waste for the building has reached approximately 90 kg/m2 GIA.

There were five key waste categories:

  • Wood – 21%
  • Plasterboard & gypsum – 17%
  • Plastic & Packaging – 8%
  • Concrete – 6%
  • Metals – 4%

Waste breakdown by disposal date and material

Waste breakdown by disposal date and material 


The large quantity of wood generated in the early stages were mostly shuttering used when pouring the concrete.

Other later sources of wood waste include pallets, boarding offcuts and packaging required for delivery of components during fit-out (e.g. building services). Much of this can be reused and even collected by the supplier.

Plasterboard waste absorbs moisture when stored on site and significantly increases in weight (up to 40%). This contributes to the significant proportion of plasterboard waste by weight shown here. However, the waste stream is still very significant and more can be done to cut down the amount of plasterboard waste. Boards becoming damaged during delivery and storage were a particular problem.

The large amount of waste concrete and concrete sludge is mainly made up of foul water required to wash out the concrete shoots.